Friday, February 02, 2018

Long Pasia

DESPITE being relatively small, Long Pasia is arguably one of the most famous villages in Sabah, probably because of its unique-sounding name which means red water in the local Lundayeh language.

Located some 250km away from Kota Kinabalu and 140 km south of Sipitang, the village is situated at the bottom left corner of Sabah, bordering Sarawak in the west and Kalimantan in the south.

Among the first stories that I heard about the place back in the 80’s and early 90’s was the week-long journey the villagers had to endure when they go to the nearest town, Sipitang.

Even when Long Pasia became accessible by road towards the end of the 90’s, it was not for ordinary vehicles until recently.

However, occasional complaints about the road condition surfaced once in a while and last week, it was reported in the local dailies that it has gone bad following a logging activity in a nearby area.

I had the opportunity to go to the village last week, some three decades since I first heard how the people there had to walk for five days, setting up camps for the nights in order to go to Sipitang, and repeating the same journey back.

My journey was relatively easy as we were traveling in a four-wheel-drive vehicle fitted with mud-terrain tyres. The beginning of the unpaved road reminded me of the many old gravel trunk roads we were familiar with such as the Sipitang-Beaufort and Beaufort-Menumbok road some two decades ago.

The road itself is an inheritance from logging activity, and was maintained by a company related to the pulp industry until it ceased operations a few years ago leaving the road deteriorating with age and weather.

Sometime in March 2017, the government decided to restore the road and by the third quarter of the year it became accessible again even by small vehicles like Perodua Kancil.

According to a regular user of the road, Markus Buas, 48, who transports agriculture produce from Long Pasia to other towns every week, the company tasked to restore the road did its job well.

“But since the beginning of this year, a logging company came in with their laden trucks plying the stretch between Kampung Batu Nuduk and Kampung Abpa Letiken even during rainy season.

“The stretch is badly damaged now and it is causing damage to the vehicles using it. The maintenance cost of my four-wheel-drive has increased.

“I hope the logging activity stops during rainy season and only continue when it’s dry. I understand that the road maintenance company can only do so much and every time they repair it, it gets damaged again.

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