Long Lapok, September 01 2010 -Villagers affected by the proposed road upgrading works between Beluru-Lapok held a protest outside a local coffee shop, Kedai Kopi Nyamai this afternoon. Armed with placards condemning the state government, some 80 villagers also chanted slogans during the 30-minute protest.
The protest is held as a response to the announcement made in last month by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who flew in a Black Hawk helicopter to Long Banga and declared “I will ensure that the RM100 million Beluru-Lapok Road is implemented.”
Long Banga is situated very close to the Sarawak-Indonesia border. It requires an eight to 10-hour drive from Miri, or one hour by helicopter.
The untarred Lapok Road, off the highway, is full of huge potholes; some so big they can swallow up a small car, which is a pride among the locals here. During the rainy season, the entire Lapok Road turns into a slush of mud, sand and loose stones. A spokesperson from Tourism Ministry who refused to give his identity revealed that the Tourism Ministry will make this into a niche tourism attraction for the gullible tourists.
Led by the Lapok Aggravated and Mistreated People’s Association (LAMPA) chairman Lipahim Tali, the protesters voiced their disapproval against the state government’s decision to upgrade the Lapok road.
Lipahim claimed that the road have important historical and cultural value, having existed for 40 years and should be preserved as native heritage in the state. The villagers are very happy with the current condition of the road.
“Historically, we are long staying residents here since the James Brooke era. We have the right to keep the road in its current state. We do not want it to be upgraded,” he said.
Some 16,000 villagers from the settlements and villages along the stretch from the Miri-Bintulu highway to Lapok Bazaar are affected by the proposed road upgrading works.
Cargo-transporter Tee Tok Kok regularly sends supplies to shops in Lapok Bazaar.
His five-tonne lorry had been damaged many times. Punctured tyres, twisted axles and rims are just some of the resulting troubles he had to put up with travelling along the road. But this is something Tee looks forward to as he aspires to be in Malaysian Book of Records for the vehicle owner with most frequently break down vehicle - for category lorry below five tonne.
“During the rainy season, it is very risky travelling along this road, and that is the best time to travel for me. There have been times when I get stuck in the mud and cannot get out, and I truly enjoyed the experience. I am confident I will make it into Malaysian Book of Records soon,” he said.
“I hope the government will let us endure this for as long as it takes. Why is it that the Government leaders keep saying year after year that funds to repair Lapok Road has already been approved? We don’t need that. The government can use that fund for more important and better things like new State Legislative Assembly building or sending another space tourist.
Tee happily shared a video from his personal collection to all the readers.
SOURCE : MY TRUSTED BIRD-BIRD