Hornbill Unleashed

September 12, 2017

Baru: Building Jiwa Murni roads ‘penny wise, pound foolish’

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:03 AM

Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian has described the government’s decision to build roads under the Jiwa Murni concept as ‘penny wise pound foolish’.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman, was referring to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing’s statement on an online news portal on Sept 7 that the government would stick to providing Jiwa Murni-standard roads despite their poor quality and short durability.

“Frankly, I am surprised that he (Masing) would make such a decision as the roads can only be used for a short period of time before they disintegrate and become reduced to muddy trenches, which are impassable by ordinary cars. Even off-road vehicles often get bogged down in the mud, as evidenced by the many pictures published by the papers in recent years,” Baru said in a press statement yesterday.

Masing had said that what was important to the state government was to make as many rural villages accessible as possible in the shortest possible time and to create connectivity.

“Take for example the Long Luping-Ba Kelalan stretch – it was built for RM57 million as a Jiwa Murni project some time ago but it is now as good as having no road,” Baru pointed out, adding that it was not accurate to say that the damage was done by heavily-laden vehicles such as timber trucks.

“There are no heavy vehicles using some of the roads in Ba Kelalan, but they have also deteriorated to appalling conditions nevertheless.”

Baru also said the Auditor General (AG)’s Report 2016 heavily criticised the Jiwa Murni roads, and he had quoted part of the report in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) in June last year: “Quality of work was less satisfactory. Road shoulders and drains were not built… There were potholes, uneven and muddy road surfaces. Road maintenance was less satisfactory… Besides faded road lines, there were untrimmed wild plants and grasses along road shoulders… safety of the roads built were ‘less satisfactory’ as they were steep and winding, with ‘no slope protection’.”

Baru said Masing, in his response defended the Jiwa Murni projects by saying the Auditor General had found in their three-month audit that the roads in Kapit, Miri and Limbang had met the objectives of providing road connectivity and reducing travel time.

“If they had extended their audit to Lawas/Ba Kelalan, they would have seen, in addition to their findings of the badly built roads and unsatisfactory safety aspects, that the conditions of the roads or muddy tracks meant that connectivity was as good as lost, and that the Jiwa Murni roads are not a cost effective way of providing road connectivity.”

Baru said given that the Jiwa Murni roads did not last very long, it would appear that the government had been ‘penny wise but pound foolish’ in the decision to allow the roads to be built in this manner by the army.

“Once the roads are handed over, JKR (Public Works Department) is responsible for the maintenance but we are constantly being told that there are limited or no funds for repairs. This is what Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin said in December 2015 in the DUN: ‘… There is no real allocation given to us from the federal government’. Masing said the same thing, as reported on the Malaysian Insight: ‘The Ba Kelalan road would be repaired’; but he did not say when as the road is ‘federally funded’.

“It is obvious to all that once the Jiwa Murni Project roads become impassable mud tracks and with no repairs forthcoming, the objectives of the government have failed. I am glad that (Telang Usan assemblyman) Dennis Ngau agrees with my views on the roads,” said Baru.

He said in the case of the Long Luping–Ba Kelalan road, if the government and timber company could build it to a R1 road for RM36 million, as reported in the press in July this year, that would serve the people of the area better.

“Sadly, it appears that the government is determined to keep providing cheap substandard roads that do not meet the needs of the people. DCM James Masing should make a trip to personally inspect the roads in Ba Kelalan – and see for himself the ‘connectivity’ that is as good as non-existent.”

Source : The Borneo Post Online



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