The impending arrival of the monsoon rain brings furrowed brows to the Orang Asli residents at Pos Bihai here, because the logging trail which is their only access to civilisation is being damaged by four-wheel drive (4WD) do-gooders who are also enthusiasts of the extreme sport.

Pos Bihai chief Alang Segan, 50, explains the paradox: he says in wet weather, large 4WD convoys end up churning up the only route they have to enter their village when bringing aid to Orang Asli posts in Pos Bihai, Pos Belatim and Pos Balar.

While he was eternally grateful for the help and concern rendered by the outside community, he has to plead for due consideration that these merciful trips be done sparingly with fewer vehicles on a smaller scale.

“We are deeply grateful that outsiders are so very aware of our welfare, but my plea to you is that if there is a need to enter here, there is no need for 30, 40 vehicles to come at the same time because it (the monstrous convoy) damages the road.

“For now as it often rains in the evening, I hope this activity can be reduced or postponed temporarily because we have to keep the road in good condition to get in and out," he said here today.

A resident of Kampung Tendrik in Pos Bihai, Apek Asud, 39, said almost 1,000 Orang Asli living at the post rely on their motorbikes to commute every day but the irony is that the 4x4 monstrosities chew up the logging road, turning basic travel into a hellish experience.

“When the road is damaged (muddied) like this, sometimes we are forced to spend the night in the forest when going in and out to our village. Usually, it only takes an hour to reach Gua Musang town by motorcycle in the dry season if the road is intact.

“I know they are bringing aid for us and I really appreciate everyone’s services, but I hope they understand our predicament too because it’s not worth it when we have to deal with a badly damaged road and risk our lives when spending the night in the jungle,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galas state assemblyman Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim said the authorities and the 4x4 teams have been repeatedly reminded about the judicious use of the main road as it is the main artery to sustain the Orang Asli community.

He said damage to the main road interfered with their everyday routine, in matters of children commuting to school, securing food supplies and travelling to and fro, much so when there is an emergency to rush the sick to hospital.“I recommend that a deposit of RM50,000 be imposed on any 4x4 team to do any activities using the Orang Asli route. Although the deposit is not enough to repair the damaged road, at least they will be mindful and careful when extreme activities involve this route.

“If the reason is to send food baskets, I believe the donation can be channelled to the District Disaster Operations Control Centre (PKOB) under the supervision of the Land and District Office or to the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) or to the Galas Assemblyman service centre," he proposed as a solution to the sticky situation.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency