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Bridge woes in Kota Belud, Tuaran
Published on: Saturday, May 14, 2022
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The bridge in Kota Belud which collapsed, leaving 4,000 residents stranded.
Kota Kinabalu: There seems no end to Sabah’s bridge problems raising questions as to the reasons they are prone to collapsing.

The only road link to five villages in Kota Belud was cut off after a bridge collapsed on Thursday following continuous heavy rains since Monday, leaving about 4,000 residents in dire straits.

Bernama reported the Sabah Public Works Department as saying in a statement that KM4.3 of Jalan Sayap in Kota Belud was closed after a bridge was damaged due to continuous heavy rains.

It said there was also no alternative route for motorists.

The condition of the Sungai Damit bridge structure in 2021 which raised concern among residents (Photo Source: Facebook).

A farmer from Kampung Sayap, Sinim Embom, 58, said her family had planned to buy items for the wedding of a relative but the disaster disrupted their preparations.

“We are forced to postpone the wedding. The incident also brings difficulties to the villagers as it was their only route to town.

“It has badly affected us, especially farmers who have to ferry their produce to town every day,” she said when met by Bernama here Friday.

A resident from Kampung Talungan, James Taiman, 69, said the incident at 2pm prevented all types of vehicles from going to the villages.

“The bridge collapse made it impossible for any vehicles to reach Kampung Nahaba, Talungan, Terintidon, Tegudon, and Kampung Sayap, which have almost 4,000 residents,” said the trader.

Another villager from Kampung Nahaba, Serupi Lambang, 46, said he hoped that the authorities could immediately build a concrete bridge to replace the collapsed one.

“The bridge which collapsed was dilapidated and should have been replaced a long time ago. The bridge is crucial as it is the only link to town,” he said.

In TUARAN, the Sungai Damit concrete bridge, constructed in 2018 costing some RM18 million and in use unofficially since last year linking Pekan Tuaran and Tamparuli had to be “closed” due to a structural defect. 

Both directions to the bridge were “closed” to allow maintenance works. It was not known how long the bridge would remain closed and whether it was linked to supposed defects.

Screenshots of grievances by netizens posted on social media.

Tuaran Public Works Department (JKR) District Engineer Farini Awang, responding to a Daily Express query following postings in social media, said:

“Structural inspection work is still being carried out by the appointed party… in fact this bridge has yet to be opened to public,” he said via WhatsApp.

A check showed pedestrians and motorcyclists continued to use the bridge to cross the river.

A photo went viral claiming there are cracks on the surface of the bridge.

Some claimed the cracks involved rubber separators connecting the bridge’s structure. 

Daily Express’ attempts to gain additional comment from relevant parties in Tuaran were unsuccessful, and “those in higher positions will issue a press statement on the issue”.

Tamparuli resident Wan, 36, who works in Tuaran town, said the closure of the bridge has caused him difficulty. 

“Since it opened at the end of last year, I have used the bridge to avoid congestion on Jalan Tamparuli-Tuaran”.

“The bridge actually made it easier for thousands of residents to enjoy the facility”.

“If it is closed due to security factors, I agree and I’m sure others will also understand,” he said.

The bridge has been much awaited for by more than 7,000 residents in seven villages in Tamparuli.

Last month, three suspension bridges in Pensiangan were damaged in heavy flooding. This resulted in confusion as to whose responsibility it was to repair or rebuild them, forcing school children to improvise their own means to get across the river to attend school.

Both the Federal and State Governments have since acted to get the repairs done soonest possible and the State Government providing boats for safety.

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