New highway a concern for businesses

, National 2 minutes, 24 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BUSINESSES in Telisai are adopting a wait-and-see attitude over concerns that the Telisai-Lumut highway would divert their customers away once it is opened.

The $138-million highway, the third of its kind in Brunei once completed, first began construction on February 2010.

The highway is nearing the end of its troubled construction, with the Brunei Economic Development Board stating in March 2015 that the highway will be completed by April 2016.

It was initially slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2013. The delay was due to “unforeseen geotechnical issues on site”.

Once completed, the 18.6-kilometre-long highway and its road users will completely bypass Mukim Telisai on their way to Seria, Kuala Belait and Miri.

The highway is constructed to alleviate traffic due to the current route between Brunei-Muara and Kuala Belait bottlenecking into a single lane as the road enters Mukim Telisai.

Manager of the popular stopover Restoran Haji KK Koya dan Anak-Anak, Hj Abdul Ali, admitted that his customer base would decrease with the completion of the highway but was not fearful of the survival of his restaurant.

“I have been here at this (Telisai) restaurant for over 30 years and in that time we have served a lot of people who are just passing through Telisai on their way to either the capital, Kuala Belait or beyond,” he said.

“I suppose we will lose many customers but there will still be a lot of Tutong locals whose patronage we can still count on so the restaurant will not go under. It will just be less busy,” added the 65-year-old.

Manager of a Telisai convenience store, Sabarudeen Mohamed – who has been working in the store for 13 years – put the fate of his store in God’s hands.

“What good would it do to fear the future of my business? I guess at times like these we would just have to rely on God,” said the 54-year-old.

“I have had thoughts about the possible adverse effects the highway would have on my sales but until the highway actually opens, I would not know how bad business would be so I will just have to wait for the time to come,” he said.

A shopkeeper at one of the vegetable shops in Telisai, Srinigsih, was less worried about the fate of her business as most of her customers are residents of Mukim Telisai.

“My customers are mostly residents of this kampung so although we do have customers from Brunei-Muara who are travellers just passing by, I am not too worried as my sales are not reliant on them,” she said.

“Perhaps with the opening of the highway we might actually have quieter and more peaceful mornings and evenings as the road will not be jammed during rush hour anymore,” she said with a laugh.

When contacted by The Brunei Times, the penghulu of Telisai was unreachable for comments on the matter.

The Brunei Times