KUCHING: Toll charges of the Murum Bridge built across the Murum HEP Dam flooded area is highest in the nation and likely in the world as motorists have to pay RM150 per crossing which means RM300 per return trip.
The astronomical charges imposed by a timber concessionaire in the area which built the bridge have raised a storm of protests among the people in the Murum area and those who work there.
“It’s just ridiculous to pay such an exorbitant amount to use the Murum Bridge,” Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang told The Borneo Post here yesterday.
According to sources, the timber concessionaire which operates in the area had started to charge road users RM300 for a return trip for using its bridge starting end of July.
Before this, the company was charging similar amount for using its manually operated ferry across the lake.
“To me that kind of fee is just too much. How could the locals be able to afford such high charges?” asked Liwan.
He said the company should not impose any toll for the usage of the bridge in the first place since it had benefited from harvesting the timber resources in the area.
“Since the company has been reaping the timber resources from the area, which also belonged to the people of Belaga, the company should in return, allow the locals from the whole district to use the bridge free of charge.
“That area in Murum is also our hinterland because we have given away our rights for the government to build both the Bakun and Murum HEP dams. So all those affected by these mega projects should be allowed to use the bridge as they still need to source for raw materials in the deep forest for jungle produce which they still depended on,” said Liwan who is also the Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage.
He further pointed out that since those who moved to Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme to give way to the Bakun dam were only given 2.8 acre per family, they should also be given the access to the forest in Murum.
Liwan said if indeed the charges were that high, he would bring up the matter during the upcoming Cabinet meeting.
“It is my duty to assist in whatever way I could for my people,” added Liwan, who is also PRS Youth chief.
It was also reported that the Penan resettlers at Metalun were given free access to use the bridge.
However, even the government would have to apply from the timber concessionaire before they could use the bridge for free.
Most of those who have to use the bridge are teachers who taught at SK Metalun, the dam’s contractor and its workers and SEB staff stationed at the Murum HEP Dam.
Meanwhile, State PWD director Zuraimi Sabki could not be reached for comment.
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/08/12/outcry-over-rm150-per-crossing/#ixzz3A8bPUfLC