Wednesday, 16 January 2019, Sematan: Imagine having to paddle your boat for one day and one night just to go to another place. This is exactly how it was for villagers of Telok Melano in the past when there was no road linking it to Sematan, the nearest town.
“The only way for us to go to Sematan then was to paddle the boat. It took us one day and one night.
“It was really tough for us then. It was only in the 1990s that we began to have engine-powered boats. Even then, it took us a few hours to reach Sematan. The risks were greater during the monsoon season when the waves are high,” said 58-year old Ahmad Pi’ie from Telok Melano.
This is history now. Ahmad is thankful that with the completion of the Telok Melano to Sematan stretch of Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak, his fellow villagers no longer have to endure this difficult and dangerous experience.
“Special tribute must be given to our former Chief Minister of Sarawak, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, for making this road a reality,” Ahmad said as he relaxed outside his wooden house in the afternoon facing the beautiful idyllic beach of Telok Melano with its clear blue sea.
For Yan Salleh who just started her stall business a couple of months ago, opening up Telok Melano means business for her.
“I decided to open this stall as I foresee more people will be coming to Telok Melano soon. Although the road has yet to be officially opened, I already have customers. Hopefully, my stall business will grow eventually,” said Yan who moved to Telok Melano 13 years ago to live with her husband.
The shy Kiah Pi’ie meanwhile said the new road was definitely most welcomed for them in Telok Melano. “Of course, it is good now that we have this road. It makes everything easier for us as we can go anywhere without having to depend on the weather as we had to use boat in the past,” said Kiah in Bahasa Sarawak.
Another local lady recalled how pregnant women would go to Lundu one month in advance if they wanted to give birth in the hospital and seek proper medical care.
A signing ceremony was held recently to signify the practical completion of the 32.770km Telok Melano-Sematan stretch.
The launching ceremony is expected to be held next week to officially launch the stretch which will then be opened to road users.