Orang Asli dicing with death using bamboo bridge

GUA MUSANG, Dec 28: The Temiar Orang Asli tribe from nine villages in the Kuala Betis Resettlement Scheme (RPS) (Block A) here are risking their lives by using a bridge made from bamboo to replace the wooden bridge which collapsed due to floods on Sunday (Dec 24).

Kuala Betis RPS Orang Asli Development and Safety Committee (JPKKOA) chairman Sudin Rigen said they built the temporary bridge on Tuesday (Dec 26) as the residents started going about their daily activities after the floodwaters receded.

He said that, for now, the bridge across Sungai Bawik could only accommodate motorcycles as the structure is not very strong.

“Previously, the logging company would help us build a new bridge every time it collapsed. However, since the road is still not accessible to heavy vehicles after the flooding the other day, we took the initiative to use bamboo to build the temporary bridge.

“I hope this bridge will be replaced with a more solid and safer concrete bridge because it is the main route for over 4,000 Orang Asli residents, including students of Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Kuala Betis and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Panggung Jaya,” he told reporters at the Kuala Betis RPS here today.

Echoing his sentiments was 63-year-old resident Along Arok, who said they faced the same problem of the bridge collapsing each time it rained heavily.

“We hope the bridge will be repaired immediately because we have been suffering for a long time… each time it rains, the river water will overflow and cause the wooden bridge to collapse.

“This is not only inconvenient but also poses a risk to us. For example, previously we had difficulty trying to take a pregnant woman, who was suffering from complications, out of our village for treatment.

“It’s not just Sungai Bawik, there are four other tributaries – Sungai Kala, Sungai Kaled, Sungai Jias and Sungai Pusar – along this route where water levels will rise each time there is a downpour,” he said.