BELAGA: The state government has been urged to heed rural Sarawak’s urgent need for bus services.
Many of the rural districts, including populated townships, are still coping with logistic inconvenience as even the most basic form of public transportation — bus, is not available.
This predicament is especially serious in the central and northern parts of Sarawak, at remote districts such as Kapit, Belaga, Baram and Lawas.
In Belaga district, for example, no public bus service is provided even in the town or the Sungai Asap township where 15,000 Bakun folk were resettled 20 years ago.
Ditoi Apo, a Penan community elder from the Belaga district, told StarMetro that the only public land transport available for people there to travel to Bintulu town (about 250km away) was private van or light commercial vehicle.
“One-way journey costs RM30 per passenger, RM60 to and fro. For people like me, that is a lot of money.
“The vehicle is often packed with people, rice and other foodstuffs.
“Sometimes, we have to wait half a day before any van comes to pick us up,” he said.
Ditoi travelled from his Belaga settlement last week to the Bakun Dam site to have a glimpse of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Najib was in Bakun for a working visit to hand over the Bakun Dam controlled by the Federal Government to Sarawak.
Ditoi said he slept overnight on the verandah of a friend’s longhouse in Sungai Asap before making his way to Bakun Dam the next morning.
Sungai Asap community chief Saging Bit said he brought up on many occasions that there must be public buses for the Belaga-Sungai Asap-Bintulu route.
“The Government must make sure that the roads are all tarred and always in good condition.
“The public bus companies must be told to provide constant and daily services connecting Bintulu, Belaga and Sungai Asap.
“We Bakun folk hope the road linking Belaga to Sungai Asap road will be ready as soon as possible,” he stressed.
Belaga district has a population of about 35,000.
From the observation of StarMetro, other rural areas including Baram and Lawas also face similar woes. Also, there is no bus link even from Miri city to Batu Niah town (120km away).