It was in early 2013 when my girl was posted to her current school in the jungle, 99 km along the Sibu-Bintulu trunk road so it has been over 5 years now, going into her sixth year right now and sadly, she has not been successful in her applications to move to a school closer to home.
It could have been a somewhat nice school if the people concerned had been more pro-active and had maintained the place, facilities and all really well and if they have a steady supply of electricity and are not dependent on generators and have a more reliable supply of diesel but no, this post is not going to be about the school. Perhaps I shall get round to it in the not-too-distant future but right now, I would like to highlight the problem I face every week when I drive to her school to pick her on Fridays and come back together or when I send her there on Sundays.
Initially, the road was fine…
*Archive photo: Sibu-Bintulu, 2013*
…though not all that great – maybe I was not too familiar with it and I had the tendency to go too fast. That probably was because it seemed so far away so I had to hurry there, do what we had to do such as cleaning the place up and what not and rush back again but there were regular upgrading and resurfacing works…
*Archive photo: Sibu-Bintulu, 2013*
…and the little inconvenience at the time sure paid off and the road seemed to get better and better after a couple of years or maybe it was because I was so familiar with it by then, like the back of my hand, so to speak, so I would know every pothole there was along the way.
Eventually, I found myself enjoying the leisurely drive…
…week after week after week. Of course, there would be those recalcitrant drivers in their 4WDs or pick-up trucks, those huge inter-town buses and even overloaded trucks like this one…
…driving like there is no tomorrow but experience has taught me to avoid those and give way to them, let them overtake, if they are coming from behind. The speed limit here is 90 kmph and if I was doing 80-90 kmph and they could overtake me and disappear out of sight, one can imagine how fast they were going. No worries though, over the years I hardly ever saw any police personnel on patrol even though there is a station at Stapang and this nice one, flats and all…
…at Selangau so those hell-raisers can just go ahead and race themselves to kingdom come!
The overtaking lanes constructed at three places did help somewhat but unfortunately, they are in a rather bad shape these days. Besides, it seems to me that most everyone thinks they are F1 drivers the moment they reach those lanes and they would go so very fast like they are afraid of people overtaking them. Obviously, these people are suffering from some kind of inferiority complex and would need to go and see a psychiatrist.
There are only two lanes, one going and one coming…
*Archive photo: Sibu-Bintulu 2013*
…so if there is a slow coach in front…
*Under-powered and overloaded*
…on days like some weekends, especially after a long weekend or a festival, when the lines of cars are simply unending, one will just have to follow quietly and patiently.
Then there were those left-wing people (they are right wing now) who kept making a whole lot of noise asking for a highway like those multi-lane ones in the mainland. Why, the father and son came to Sibu when the YB at the time died of cancer and there was a by-election and the old man commented that driving on the roads here was like riding on horses – and that got me wondering as to whether they ever did ride on horses before.
That was how it all started, the construction of the Pan-Borneo Highway. Slopes were bulldozed and flattened, vast areas of jungle were cleared, longhouses and other houses along the way were demolished but works went on at a snail’s pace. On my weekly drives, along the way I could count the number of people that I saw working with one hand and when it rained, flash floods would occur and the water would wash the mud onto the road rendering it quite invisible so I would have to drive very very slowly, praying and hoping that I would not run over a giant pothole or go into the drain.
Lately, they have had all the detours along this once relatively straight road so you would have to turn right here…
…and left there…
…go down the slope here and up the slope there…
…twisting and turning like a snake…
…and it would not be so bad if these lencongans had been well-made. Maybe it is because they are meant to be temporary so the quality is bad and they have been done hastily in a slip-shod manner so give it a week or two, there will be potholes, BIG ones, all over, a whole lot of very uneven parts and going over those, I would hear the LOUD crunching sound of my car being dragged along. Suffice to say that with the construction of what we call the Pain-Borneo Highway, the once rather nice road has been completely ruined!!!
I hear that construction has been held back pending investigation of the main contractor and the sub-contractor and the sub-sub-contractor etc…etc…etc… Word has it that the ones right at the bottom line, doing all the work, get paid very little, if at all.
Our population is smaller, our traffic volume is much less than over in the peninsula – personally, I do not feel we really need a highway. It would have been a lot better if all the money had been spent gradually and progressively on maintaining and upgrading the road and at most, a few more of those overtaking lanes would do fine but I guess it is too late to turn back – the whole road is one horrendous mess and it gets worse by the day! Looking at the progress going on so very very slowly, I really do not think I, and many of those at the top as well, including the one at the very top, will get to see its completion…in our lifetime.
8 thoughts on “You ruin me…”
Couldn’t wait for all this to be over but somehow it is going to take more years to complete.
You remember that BIG roundabout near the Sibu airport? There were signs saying the flyover and what not would be completed by June, 2018 – when we drove past last week, we noticed that the date had been painted over with BLACK paint. Disgraceful!!! They should be ashamed of themselves! So far, only TWO pillars have gone up – will take forever for it to be done!
With the main Contractor, sub contractor and sub sub contractor being held up, I bet it is still a long long way to complete. The stretch Serian – Sri Aman Road is just as bad and many serious accidents resulting in death had occurred. Partly, it was due to reckless driving. Luckily, my son got transferred back 2 months after the construction of Pan Borneo Highway starts.
So lucky, your son! My girl’s not successful in her application again! I don’t know why they cannot post the new teachers there and take the old ones out – I hear there are fresh new brooms posted straight to the town schools. I guess the people concerned never give much thought to what they are doing, any lubang, masuk aje! At this present day and age, I would have thought they would have specially programmed programmes to do the job – just enter and everything will be done automatically…and to everyone’s liking, not simply done anyhow as they feel like it.
What a pity. A good road would make all the difference for your and your girl’s commute. Best of luck to her for the next transfer round.
Thanks. Yes, it’s only around 2 hours away, not that far actually and I am very free, old pensioner. Wouldn’t mind the drive, if only the road is good. Been praying so hard but my prayers have fallen on deaf ears, it seems. Hope she will get it soon.
They didn’t state the reason how come they can’t post your daughter to a school near home?
“Your services are still needed.” FULL STOP. Trouble is my girl is too goody-goody, serious and hardworking, everything to the letter and never mind what, dunno how to quarrel with people, so mild and gentle. Problematic teachers, 1 or 2 years there, already got their transfer. If I were her, sure heads would roll already…when things in the school are not right – sure they would be too happy to get rid of me.
Sigh. The trouble a teacher goes through to serve. I really salute you and Melissa, two very dedicated teachers.
Where I am at, we’ve gone through thick and thin of roads being resurfaced, reconstructed and more but because we are in the city, they are done very quickly and usually with very little hassle for us.
I get quite annoyed by the regular resurfacing here in the town – they do it on the good roads, long stretches…and there are bad parts that are ignored, dunno why. In fact, the roads were not so bad, such a waste of money working on those. Could have done all of that on the road to Selangau, would have covered quite a distance, a welcome relief indeed!
Really hope Melissa could successfully transferred to somewhere nearer soon.
Let us pray!