Bridge Collapses after heavy rains, over 1,000 Keningau residents affected
The 62-year-old underwater bridge near Kampung Nountunan ApinApin completely collapsed at lam yesterday following heavy rains which caused the Apin-Apin River to burst its banks. The flood has cut off links to more than 1,000 residnts of three villages and damaged their paddy irrigation system. Part of the bridge collapsed at 11pm on Monday last week after a similar flood. The bridge was built during the British era in 1946 using gabions, and after Sabah’s Independence, it was rebuilt with concrete. Since Independence, the bridge has been the main passage for motorists going to Kota Kiiiabalu, and for local people going to town or to their farms, paddy fields, school and offices. “The bridge was the main communication link for residents of Kampung Nauntunan, Nauntunan Atas and Nauntunan Tengah going to town, rubber smaliholdings and paddy fields,” Kampung Nauntunan Village Development and Security Committee (.JKKK) Secretary Freddy Benedict told The Borneo Post here yesterday. The bridge was also used by teachers and students of SK St James and SK Pekan Apin-Apin, although they can still use the suspension bridge next to it. Freddy said the bridge was repaired last year, but collapsed after heavy rains from 8pm until midnight yesterday because its foundation was weak without the gabions. “To my knowledge, the bridge was empty underneath without any gabions, that is why it collapsed easily after the Apin-Apin River flooded on Monday night last week and early morning today,” he said. The collapse of the bridge has cut off road links to the three villages, and motorists going to Apin-Apin have been forced to use the 15km road through Kitou village, which is in a poor state of repair and is normally usable only by four-wheel drive vehicles. Freddy said the bridge is no longer usable, and urged the Government to replace it with a Bailey bridge. He also urged the Government to supply pipes to channel water from the Apin-Apin River to the paddy fields. Some 200 farming families have not been able to resume their paddy planting on their 200 acres of paddy fields after the irrigation canals were damaged by the flood. “Without water, the farmers would not be able to plant paddy this year,” he said. Yesterday’s flood was the worst in memory, he said, adding even Tropical Storm Greg in 1996 did not cause the bridge to collapse. Keningau Parliamentary Liaison Officer Harry Gitik and his staff visited the area yesterday. Freddy expressed the hope that Bingkor Assemblyman Justin Guka and Keningau Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan could visit the area soon to lighten the affected villagers’ burden.