Nancy Shukri has been quoted as saying that the new RM211 million Batang Sadong Bridge would cut travel time from Kuching to Sibu by at least two-an-a-half hours from a total of eight hours, first by Bernama on Aug 28 and then by The Borneo Post the following day.
What Sarawak DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) chief Wong King Wei had questioned was whether the travel time was reduced or not. He did not question the need for the bridge and he definitely did not said the rural communities of Sarawak do not deserve any development brought about by the existence of the new bridge.
What he questioned was whether Nancy was making up figures when she claimed that travel time between Kuching and Sibu would be reduced by at least two-and-a-half hours by using the new Batang Sadong Bridge.
That claim by Nancy is pure fantasy.
When road users drive to Meludam, the road there is so bumpy and we cannot even drive at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour before reaching Pusa-Meludam ferry jetty. Travel time from Kuching to Sibu is different from the travelling time of the people of Simunjan and Meludam to Kuching.
The main point raised by Wong was that after road users cross the Batang Sadong Bridge from Kuching, there is another two rivers that need crossing, and those two rivers are only serviced by ferries.
It is true that if there are two more bridges, travelling time may be reduced by about one hour (70-80 kilometres), but the bridges currently do not exist.
And the ferries that service the two additional rivers, Batang Saribas and Batang Lupar, are located at river deltas which are very wide, close to the sea and users are known to experience difficult crossing conditions.
To say that using the additional two ferry services at these crossings would reduce travelling time is fantasy.
There is no point arguing with Nancy on the calculations because most BN leaders do not know how to calculate correctly. We used the calculations to justify the point why the Batang Sadong Bridge alone is not good enough to help to shorten the traveling time. This is more meaningful than arguing about the calculation itself.
DAP’s contention is that travelling time, as of now, in the absence of the two other bridges, is much longer because of the two ferry trips. If Nancy says that travelling time will be shorter with the completion of the two bridges, we can accept that.
But instead of addressing the travel time, Nancy has twisted the issue saying we are not supportive of rural development and has urged the rakyat to reject DAP’s Impian Sarawak that sought to bring about development to the rural constituencies.
A constant BN tactic
This is a constant BN tactic deployed against us. BN is the one that has kept on politicising development issues in Sarawak and is the true master of ‘political gimmickry’ in their 53 years of control.
The truth is, since 1963, BN has failed to provide connectivity and development for her people throughout the state. BN is the one that has broken the hearts of many rural communities. They failed to see the hardship and difficulties that the people in the rural areas have to face without good roads and connectivity for the past 53 years.
BN does not truly know how difficult it is for the people in the rural area to commute from their villages to the city nearby especially when there is an emergency and there is a need to go to the nearest hospital in the city. Otherwise the roads and bridges would have been built decades ago.
The issue is not about whether DAP wants development for rural folk. The real issue here is that Nancy made a false claim, and is backtracking on it.
She will never admit she was wrong and she cannot say travel time is actually the same, or longer.
If Pakatan Harapan comes to power, we will build more bridges connecting every part of Sarawak.
ABDUL AZIZ ISA MARINDO is special assistant to the Sarawak DAP chairperson and Petra Jaya DAP Socialist Youth publicity secretary. -Mkini