They want better roads and water
Published on: Sunday, January 15, 2023
By: Lorena Binisol and Jinius Pandakin
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Rainah showing the unsealed road in her village (left pic). Rainah Latagon is hopeful the government would provide clean water and sealed road (right pic).
THE election has come and gone but some people in the interior fear things may still be the same.

The community in Kg Bilangau Kecil, in Pitas, for instance have never experienced what it is like to have a proper road to their village all their life.

The older villagers said for the past 40 years they were promised a sealed road whenever it was election time. 

Munket Ruminsun, 73, said they were also promised water pipes and so on.

“I have had enough of these promises. My children have grown up and are having their own children but nothing of their promises came true,” he said.

Asked why they still voted for the leader knowing nothing was delivered, they said it was because they were still hopeful and poor. Hence, they felt powerless.

Munket’s wife, Rainah Latagon, said: “We only think of survival. I don’t understand all this politics. All I want is to have a decent living, with clean water and good road.

“I want my children and grandchildren to have the basic facilities to help in their wellbeing. Most importantly they must be able to continue studies and find good jobs.

“But all I experience here is difficulty and scarcity. We depend on outside help for some amenities.”

She said although the Government built a water pipeline decades back “we never had water, not even a drop until now.”  

“We depend on rain water or gravity for our cooking or washing. Life is really hard here,” she said.

Rainah’s daughter Viviliana, 25, said she is used to the hard life of having no clean water, but did not wish her three children to suffer like they did.

“We want clean water and good road for our betterment. It is unfair for the next generation to experience the same thing we are experiencing now.”

Viviliana hopes her children will not suffer in the future.

 Asked if they approached their elected representatives, she said they once placed high hopes on Datuk Ruddy Awah.

“He knows fully well our situation and what we need. We told him our suffering. We waited and waited but no avail,” she said with frustration. 

Ruddy was defeated in the recent election by Independent candidate Verdon Bahanda but it is left to be seen whether the victor would be able to do any better.

Viviliana said it was also puzzling how come some community leaders in Pitas had their private roads to their homes sealed and amenities around their vicinity upgraded but not in Kg Bilangau Kecil.

“Are we not part of the community in Pitas? Why is our village not given attention?” she asked.

 Another villager Alvina @ Martha (40) who lives six kilometres away said all her children had to leave the village to seek a better life.

“I have no choice but let them find job elsewhere. There is nothing for them here. I am a grandmother now and just hope the younger generation will have better life.

Alvina said all her children went elsewhere for jobs.

Pondoyok never had clean water all her life. She does not want the younger generation to have the same fate

“But first, we plead for a sealed road and clean water for our village,” she said, when welcoming a church group from Kota Kinabalu with food and other items, recently.

The villagers were also taught how to start rearing oyster mushrooms for a sustained income and own consumption. The problems are no different in Sipitang, Long Pasia in particular. "Enough is enough" said Andal Ating, 73, from Ulu Bole, 72km from Sipitang town. 

“We have been promised good road facilities, starting from the village Mendulong to Kg Long Pasia. 

“This promise was made at every election whether it is Parliamentary or State since the late 70s. We were lied to," said Andal who is also a former Village Head (KK) and Native Head (KAN).

He said the situation becomes difficult during the rainy season, where some parts of the road become muddy and slippery. The “fatigue” and “pain” felt by residents along the road starts from Kg Mendulong up to Kg Long Pasia (123km).

“Some yellow/red dirt roads made it difficult as well as dangerous for road users especially during the rainy season. We sympathise with our brothers and sisters who remained in Kg Long Pasia,” Andal said.

He said the trip to Long Pasia Kg takes between three and five hours, depending on weather. 

Sometimes we even take a day to travel to Long Pasia especially during the rainy season as it would be muddy and slippery, and  deserved to be called ‘buffaloes wallow.

“Or if the concrete bridge at Kg Meligan gets flooded. We have to wait until the water recedes to ensure it is safe to cross.

“We don't want the events of a few years ago to be repeated where a Form Five student drowned when the driver crossed a concrete bridge during a flood.” 

“The car was swept away while crossing the bridge. Rescue And Fire Department Sipitang and Villagers took 11 days to find the victim's body,” said a government employee on duty at kg Long Pasia.

Selutan Bulus, 80, from Kg Meligan, also expressed his frustration. "It is true that 'Aman'. (Polite name of the Murut Tahol tribe) We in Kg Melgan 88 kilometres away

“I have been longing for a good and passable road for a long time. my son's car is often damaged and require high cost for repair,” said Selutan.

He said the promises of the winning candidate didn’t materialise until the end of the five-year period. Selutan pleaded for the road to be repaired so that light vehicles, such as a kancil, could pass.

Another resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said the concrete bridge at Kg Meligan needed to be replaced with a higher bridge so that it was safe to pass during floods.

“This is why we often get stuck and our journey is interrupted when there is a flood at the concrete bridge. Usually, it takes a day for the river water to recede after a flood. I also asked the government to build two huts where we can rest. 

“One hut to be built next to the bank of the Kg Meligan and another next to the riverbank heading to Kg Long Pasia for a place to rest while waiting for the flood water to recede.

This problem is also a setback for those who have a vehicle when they go through the road to get to kg Iburu and then to kg Long Pasia. 

Murang Padan, 62, from kg Long Mi suggested that “Ulu people” petition for the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Sabah to visit the road from Kg Mendulong-Long

"We want our roads in Ulu to always be in good condition. Because if there is an emergency such as terminal illness; it worries the residents to take the patient to Sipitang district hospital.”

He hoped for cooperation from logging companies, who have trucks carrying logs or planks/timber, to work together to repair the road by laying gravel on the slippery road or muddy road instead of using soil to spread on the area,” Murang said.

In addition to the residents of five villages (Ulu Bole, Meligan, Iburu, Long Mio and Long Pasia) who were in dire need of good road, tourists who come to long Pasia also face difficulties and are feared may give an overview of this situation to their friends, and affect tourism promotion in Sipitang district.

It was recently reported that Sabah Oil  and Gas Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (SOGDC) and Esteel Enterprise Sabah Sdn Bhd, signed a land lease agreement for the development of the valuable Green Steel Project at USD4.39 billion (RM19.65 billion) in the Oil and Sabah Gas (Sogip).

This is the largest investment Sabah has received so far. This project is expected to generate a large economic spill over to the local community through the creation of 10,000-15,000 job opportunities during the construction period and 1,752 during the operational period for Phase 1 alone, increasing another 8,000 indirect employment opportunities.

While Phase II and III would create 5,455 jobs during the operation period, increasing 30,000 direct employment opportunities.

Established in August 2010, SOGDC is a government agency under the Ministry Industrial Development that acts as a vehicle company for the purpose of owning, developing, managing, and marketing Sogip, an area of approximately 1,600ha/4,065 acres in Mengalong, Sipitang.

The spillover from this investment would have a huge positive impact in Sipitang, making this district another industrial centre in the country and act as a catalyst for Development at Sabah. Sogip expects several more investments to come.

"In relation to this large investment, we want to see Sipitang district's progress go hand in hand.”

Datuk Matbali Musah the Sipitang Member of Parliament from GRS who was elected in the GE15 election said residents along the road from Kg Mendulong are desperate for a good road right up to Kg Long Pasia.


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