Sunday September 30, 2012
No Kiding - Villagers desperate for a road after years of battling hardship
By VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: With just a kerosene lamp and torch to light their way, a group of men from Kampung Kiding carry a sick villager on a bamboo stretcher with great care up a rocky path.
Day or night and in times of an emergency such as this, the fate of those who are very ill depends heavily on how quick these men are on their feet.
It gets worse particularly after a downpour as the meandering path gets all muddy and a slip can injure both carrier and the patient.
But this is nothing new for the Bidayuh folk of Kampung Kiding, which is located on the highlands of Upper Padawan here.
It has been the case for generations after generations, as the quaint and serene village could only be reached either by air or on foot.
By land, it is a three-hour walk through at least 6km of hilly terrain. Villagers would have to park their vehicles at a designated point called Bang Baku nearby Borneo Highlands, and begin the climb to their homes.
Some may just shrug if off, contented to think that the people of Kampung Kiding would have gotten used to all this by now.
Sadly, the hardship and battle for mental and physical strength are a way of life for them.
A young generation of Kampung Kiding, Behak Kinot said though years had passed, the villagers still had to endure the same kind of hardship as their forefathers.
“My mother recently fell ill and she too had to be carried on a stretcher so that we can rush her to the hospital. Thank God she was able to hang on and her condition did not deteriorate.
“Each time a villager falls ill and is in serious condition, we pray that we will be able to get him or her to the hospital in time and nothing bad happens along the way,” she told The Star.
However, not everyone was lucky. A long time ago, an elderly man died just as the group of men carrying him reached the base at Bang Baku.
Behak’s father was among the group of men who tried very hard but failed to save the sick old man.
Up till today, Behak could not understand why Kampung Kiding could not have a road.
“It doesn’t need to be tar-sealed. At this point of desperation, we will be happy if there’s a road, even if it’s just for motorcycles to get to the village,” she said.
She said for more than 50 years, the villagers have been asking for an access road to be built there. Moreover, she pointed out that private companies and non-governmental organisations had tried but failed to get a road constructed in the area.
“This year alone, we have five cases in which the sick had to be carried down on stretches to be rushed to hospital.
“How long will this go on? We see development taking place elsewhere but here, we can’t even get an access road,” she said.
Behak said Kampung Kiding was on the list of villages which are supposed to receive the flying doctor services. But to her and the others, this was not adequate and was considered a failure.
She said in the past few years, there were only a few times when the flying doctor visited the village. This was possible only during fine weather.
“If you say the mountain ranges made it difficult for Kampung Kiding to have a road, I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. I have seen villages in Sabah located in remote places up on the hills, that have access roads,” she said.
Fellow villager Simon Ahem said Kampung Kiding lagged far behind in terms of basic infrastructure development despite being supportive of the Government.
He said the villagers also initiated their own road project by collecting money from those who had stable jobs in town but that was soon scrapped when the funds ran out.
It is learnt that at one time, few cars and motorcycles were able to go up to the village at the time of the road project.
Unfortunately, landslides that occurred during rainy days have made the journey impossible again.
“We do hope the Government will consider upgrading the existing pathway, which was cleared 11 years back. Carrying the sick who are in need of urgent treatment for 6km on foot is no joke,” said Simon.
He believed with a good road, other facilities and amenities like electricity and water supply, proper waste management and land surveying works would be able to reach the villages easily.
He said the villagers were keen on helping the Government with plans to develop their area. In fact, he said, if it was difficult to provide them with direct power supply, the village was willing to opt for a mini hydroelectric dam.
He said it would cost below RM200,000 to have one which includes a turbine of 60KW with a transformer unit.
Currently, the village depends on generator for power and gravity feed for water.