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Unique construction features to preserve the Samunsam wildlife

Tuesday, 2 April 2019, Kuching: With one-third of the Telok Melano-Sematan stretch lying within the Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary, construction of this completed 32.770km stretch of two-lane dual carriageway of R5 standard had to meet certain unique conditions set by the Wildlife Department so as not to disrupt the wildlife habitat i.e. proboscis monkeys.

These unique features imposed on the construction of the stretch has even caught the attention of an online news portal, Malaysian Insight which carried a news story with the title “Bridge built with monkeys in mind” published yesterday.

To enable the animals in the sanctuary to cross the Sungai Samunsam, culverts were deliberately over-sized to accommodate their passage. The bridge across this river was designed and constructed with additional two to three spans from one side of the river bank to create open space below the road deck. This is to increase the overall length of the bridge to facilitate the wildlife movements along the river, especially near the mangrove bank.

Another unique feature was the working hours where the contractors had to comply with the recommended operating hours restrictions by the Forestry Department of between 7am to 5 pm for the road construction within the sanctuary so as not to disrupt the wildlife before and beyond these hours.

No electricity or communication lines were suspended between poles within the Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary where the cables are buried underground. Although water pipes were allowed on the ground, it however was covered and regularly spaced to allow the animals to pass.

Street lights were also prohibited from being installed within the sanctuary except where it was necessary for the safety of road-users. In place were other additional safety features to provide sufficient illumination at night as recommended by Road Safety Consultant.

Construction of the Telok Melano - Sematan stretch began in September 2015 and took 39 months to complete. The launching of the stretch was held on January 26 this year. With the completion of this stretch, locals can now drive to the idyllic beach of Telok Melano which was inaccessible by road in the past.