Rain damages Buau bridge, disrupts vehicular traffic

National 3 minutes, 26 seconds

BELAIT

HEAVY rain and strong currents have damaged the Buau bridge in the remote area of Belait District, cutting off access for hundreds of residents of Mukim Sukang and Mukim Melilas from the district for the past two days.

The foundation of the Buau bridge connecting villages under Mukim Sukang and Mukim Melilas to the rest of the district gave way at around 7pm to 8pm on Wednesday. However, no injuries were reported. The Belait District Office said “heavy rain and swift currents affected the structure of the bridge and caused the nearby ground to sink around two feet deep. Vehicles cannot cross the bridge and the area had been cordoned off”.

The Belait District Office said “heavy rain and swift currents affected the structure of the bridge and caused the nearby ground to sink around two feet deep. Vehicles cannot cross the bridge and the area had been cordoned off”.

However, residents were still able to cross to the bridge. Residents had to leave their vehicles by the roadside and walk across the bridge, where family members and friends would pick them up.

When The Brunei Times visited the site yesterday, several families were crossing the bridge to return to Belait town after spending their day off in the villages.

Acting Penghulu of Mukim Sukang Hj Mohd Noh Datu Maharaja Setia Dian was also on site to assess the situation.

Hj Mohd Noh said he was informed the bridge was on the verge of sinking by one of the village residents passing through the bridge on Wednesday night.

He then contacted Belait District Officer Hj Haris Othman for further action.

A Belait District Office representatives inspected the bridge on Thursday, said Hj Mohd Noh.

“One of the temporary solutions was to ask for the help of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces to provide a ‘temporary bridge’ while the relevant authorities come up with a permanent solution, he said.

The bridge was built under the Belait District Office’s funding less than three years ago, and aimed to ease access for residents.

Hj Mohd Noh hoped a sturdier and more suitable bridge would replace the existing one; and should be capable of handling not only traffic by village residents, but also heavy vehicles and machinery.

“This is the first time something like this happened. We have another bridge similar to this, the Biadong bridge. I would also like the relevant authorities to look into it, in terms of safety and suitability. We do not want anything bad to happen,” he added.

The cut-off meant disruptions to the routines of many village residents employed in the public and private sectors.

The bridge connects residents of Mukim Sukang as well as Mukim Melilas to the rest of the Belait district.

Before the upgrading of the roads and the construction of the bridge, the villagers used boats for access. The Belait District Office said plans to have an alternative route was mooted, but no further information was available.

Accessibility and road upgrades were persistent issues in many discussions and meetings at the district and national level.

For Head of Biadong Ulu long house, the incident was a cause for concern especially with the longhouse annual new year celebration approaching.

Lasit Galawing said the incident may cause a damper to the celebrations on December 31, an event that took months to prepare.

“Everything has been arranged and this is something that many of the residents look forward to, especially with expected guests such as senior officials from the Belait District Office and Ministry of Home Affairs invited to attend,” he said.

“We hope we can overcome this problem together, to restore ease of access for all,” he added.

Resident of Kg Biadong Tengah, Sagai Anak Layang, shared Lasit’s sentiments.

The 62-year-old said the bridge provided vital access in case of emergencies.

Sagai was just one of the residents who had to rely on family members and friends’ help to pick him up from the village and town.

The bridge marked the start of the 9km distance to Kg Sukang, 10 km to Biadong Ulu longhouse and 20 km to Kg Melilas.

The Brunei Times