The workers have already got as far as, what I call, the crocodile pool, which is about 2kms from the village. This is a magnificent spot where another smaller river, known as Air La, flows across the trail and joins the Sg. Luit. Back in the 19th century the British, who were mining in the area, built a small railway that crossed the Sg. Luit at this spot, in fact remnants of the concrete pillars that held the rail track, are still visible on top of the huge boulders. A metal suspension bridge, which is suitable for pedestrians and motorbikes only, currently spans the confluence. It was there that I had a chat to one of the bulldozer drivers. He claimed the road up to the suspension bridge was phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 is about to start on the other side of the suspension bridge and will go as far as the main river crossing about 1.5 kms upstream. The existing cable bridge is being left untouched, according to him.
Crocodile pool shot from the old jungle trail.
Remnants of the 19th century mining railway that crossed the Sg. Luit
Metal bridge spanning Air La
The other side of the metal bridge - phase 2, about to be bulldozed.
They have started laying a very fine aggregate on top of the stone chips but there are many places where the underlying water is still seeping through. The drains they have installed are fed from open freshly dug ditches and there's already evidence of silting problems to come. In one place a plastic pipe has been laid a couple of inches under the stone graveling to drain a small rivulet that flows across the road. It's hard to imagine this will last very long, especially with all the heavy construction vehicles constantly driving back and forth over it. I'm not even convinced it's even a proper drainage pipe as the stones on top of it were damp indicating that the water was flowing freely underneath.
Fine aggregate piled up at Lubok Pusing.
Right now my biggest concern is that the road won't last very long and, if it does collapse, that the environment will be messed up even more and the Orang Asli will be cut off from their dusuns inside the jungle. Not far outside of the village there are signs that the road is already unstable on the side that slopes down to the rive and there are now several, quite big trees, whose roots have been undermined, perching very precariously above the new road. The fact that the road is being built so shoddily would tend to indicate that the rumour of resorts is untrue. Surely if there are plans to develop an area inside the jungle it would be completely insane not to make sure it was built to the highest standards.
I think it would be great to get an independent opinion on the quality of the road from a practicing civil engineer, so if anyone reading this has the necessary expertise and is willing to give an opinion free of charge then please get in touch with me here and I promise I'll publish your findings no matter what.
Lubok Pusing used to be a popular camping and picnic spot.
In the meantime I'm going to start badgering the Department of the Environment to find out if there was ever an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) done for this project. Of course I'm not expecting, given that the road is illegal, in which case the DOE should investigate and take some action.
Tomorrow Senator Datuk T. Murugiah from MIC is visiting Kg. Pertak in response to a complaint about the road by a local resident so stay tuned for more news...