|MIRI (Jan 18): A resident of Mulu laments over the ‘insufficient’ flight to Long Banga – a problem that has been going on for years without any action being taken by the relevant authorities.
Usat Bilong, who is PBB/GPS Mulu Youth chief, says the current transit two flights (Miri-Marudi-Long Banga) are not enough and many passengers, especially the elderly who have medical appointments every month, are having trouble attending their scheduled medical appointments.
“They have to come to the airport every week as early as 5am to submit their names for the purpose of waiting list because the flights are always full. Some may need to repeat this sometimes three to four times until they have a seat to go home.
“This is very stressful and a burden for all the village folks and I am sure the same thing also happens to some other areas besides us using MASwings service, but Long Banga is the worst because we still have only two transit flight a week for long time,” Usat told The Borneo Post when contacted.
At the moment, there are only two flights to Long Banga, which fly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
In this regard, Usat is requesting and appealing to responsible bodies such as the Ministry of Transport and MASwings to consider increasing the frequency of flights to Long Banga, to at least three times a week, with an additional direct flight from Miri to Long Banga every week.
“We have already requested for this before, our headman did write a letter to (Mulu assemblyman) Datuk Gerawat Gala and (Transport Minister) Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin but still no action. So, I just want to highlight this issue again so they know we still need this issue to be resolved.
“This additional direct flight is necessary to facilitate medical appointments for the elderly to come to town for medical check-up and going back. We do not want them to keep postponing their appointments and get stuck in Miri because there is no flight to go back home,” he said.
Usat, who is also Saban Association Miri Sarawak president, added that the increase in four-wheel-drive vehicle fares which is now ‘very high’ at RM200 one way is very burdensome to the village folks, especially the elderly who do not have a fixed income.
“Using MASwings flight at RM70 plus special rates for the elderly is considered very cheap and helpful for them compared to using four-wheel-drive vehicle,” he explained.
According to Usat, the additional direct flight is also necessary for safety reasons as the use of logging road is ‘very unsafe’ and dangerous, especially during raining season.
“The population density in the hinterland or kampongs is also increasing with the presence of several government departments operating in the hinterland like school, agriculture station and clinic which also require an adequate transportation system for official work-related purposes to the city and back to the village,” said Usat.
Therefore, on behalf of the residents of Long Banga and its surrounding areas who need additional flights, Usat strongly appeals to the government to look into this problem.
“I hope that it will be accelerated for the good and wellbeing of the people in the interior,” he said.
|The Borneo Post|