'Moon craters' go viral: Sabahans use cyberspace to address poor road conditions

KOTA KINABALU: On a daily basis, Internet users have been highlighting the poor conditions of Sabah's roads, often dubbed moon craters.

Whether it is a damaged or pothole-riddled road or a gravel or mud road, Sabahans online are posting at regular intervals hoping to get attention from the authorities to act on the issue that not only damages their vehicles but is also blamed for some fatal accidents.

One post by Facebook user Mahathir Aripin even caught the international media's attention when he planted a banana tree in a pothole on a road in Sukau, which is part of the main trunk road linking Sabah's east coast towns of Sandakan and Tawau.

Mahathir's Jan 29 post almost immediately saw authorities sealing off the pothole.

Children walking through the mud to school after their parents' vehicle got stuck in damaged roads are among the highlights of poor road conditions from the state's northern Kudat peninsula to the interior Keningau and the east coast of Sabah.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya acknowledged that there were problems with many roads across the state but assured the public that steps were being taken to address the issues, especially those in critical areas.

"We are aware of the problems and concerns with the current condition of our many roads whether it is federal, state, district and kampung roads," he said when contacted.

Shahelmey, who is state Works Minister, said that the maintenance works for those roads are being monitored by the Road Maintenance section and state Public Works Department district engineers.

The maintenance works are being carried out by the appointed concessionaires and contractors under three categories - routine, periodical and emergency works.

"Recently, we are seeing the emergence of many potholes and deteriorating road conditions, we have ordered our site teams to be more proactive in monitoring and implementing the maintenance works," he said.

Shahelmey said they were also looking at new technologies in road maintenance and repair for "stronger and more durable" roads.

"At the same time, other factors such as controlling the overloaded lorries, weather (rain and drainage) among others need to be looked at as well," he said, adding that the bigger challenge was having sufficient funds to carry out the works.

"We have to manage the amount of funding available yearly, it is another challenge in itself. Priorities have to be managed efficiently from time to time," he added.
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