Sunday, 10 May 2009

Abandoned Highway In A Limbo

I used the old road to Balik Pulau via Teluk Kumbar very frequently and it just did not hit me that there was so much to do as far as the new highway construction was concerned. Maybe it was the gradual change in landscape that did the trick. Taking a lead from my fellow Citizen Journalist, Owen Koh, a team of CJs ventured into the very heart of Balik Pulau and after making good a few assignments, Owen Koh, Chan Lilian and I, took a drive along the old road towards Teluk Kumbar to witness the “half cooked” highway. One requires to blur off all the natural beauty of the hills and the greens of Balik Pulau and focus on the devastating condition of the abandoned highway.

Signs of landslides are frequent from the evidence gathered which we can observed from the side of the hills and it can only get worse with the prolonged halt of this project.

There was this section of the road  which is so narrow that it can only allow a one way flow of traffic from both directions. This can only be done with several traffics lights and these lights are manned by foreign workers. Based on my interview with a foreign “traffic controller”, it seems these narrow roads are monitored 24 hours. When asked if there was any kind of recent construction, he answered no. It seems there was no progress for the past 1 year or so.

At present, the old road  has also a lot of dangerous corners and there was one in particular which I highlighted in my short clip “Abandoned Highway Scars Balik Pulau”. The edge of this road has a drop of at least 30 metres and the worse part is there was not permanent barrier to stop motorists from driving into the ravine.

Since there was a new road construction near this section of the road, a line of plastic barriers were placed. If motorists are not careful, they may rammed through the plastic barriers and plunged into the ravine, a fatal plunge I am sure.

I was able to see these because this time around I rode a motorcycle and try to understand and feel the actual situation. I managed to get close up shots of the abandoned highway and it was shocking indeed.

Based on gathered information, the project was supposed to be completed within the 4th quarter of 2008, but until now, not an inch of this highway is usable. What is holding back the progress of this multi million project or will it become a structure waiting to be swallowed by the jungle of Balik Pulau, Penang?

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