PITAS: Kg Kobon, in Pitas District is an idyllic village. The clusters of houses are nestled among gigantic trees and shrubberies that grow lushly around. The canopy of the trees keeps the harsh sun light away and lends the village a tranquil setting usually sought by city dwellers.
Some of the quaint rustic houses are made of split bamboo and wood. Some have zinc roofs while others are made from palm fronds. Around the houses are gardens of flowers and vegetables as well as pens for livestock such as pigs and chicken.
The meandering paths to the houses are under the shades of gigantic fruits trees like langsat (Lansium domesticum) and Tarap (Artocarpus odoratissimus) among others. The paths are just walk ways through the weeds.
Adding to the feeling of timelessness are the warbles of birds and sounds of insects.
Kg Kobon is indeed a tranquil village.
However, the 400 strong villagers, mostly sustenance farmers are far from happy with their situation. They want development and basic infrastructures on par with their more developed counterparts in the State.
This idyllic village has no electricity supply, no clean treated water and the six kilometer road from the asphalted thoroughfare is horrendous.
Juni Andigang, 35, who was born and grew up in that village, said the village is about 30 kilometers from Pitas Township, with the last six kilometers being a dirt road.
“The six kilometers of dirt road was built in 2009 by a company who harvested the acacia trees for their saw mill in Mempakad. The villagers were very happy at that time because they could then go to Pitas Township quite easily,” he shared.
“However, it is a dirt road after all and when it rains it’s almost impossible to travel on. It can only be travelled on during sunny weather but only by a four wheel drive.”
According to him, they maintained the road through ‘gotong royong’ to make sure that the road is not reclaimed by nature.
Juni said the people are stuck in their impoverished state by circumstances. The people cannot send their farm produce to town to sell as the road is so bad that only four wheel drives can travel on it.
Determination is their only strength, where they carry their produce for three kilometres to the jetty and then transport the produce on a boat, to a vehicle in Pandan and then the goods will reach town.
“We have coconuts, bananas and other fruits but we cannot send them out to sell due to lack of accessibility,” he stated, adding that this impacted the elderly, pregnant women and the sick as well.
“We have to carry them physically to the nearest clinic in Dandun which is two kilometers away and if necessary to Pitas Hospital,” he said.
The children are not spared the hardship for they have to travel three kilometres to school, travelling on a boat at river on the way. They have to wake up very early to start their day.
Adrianna Jupirin, 11, shared that she is used to the early morning walk and the trek home afterwards. Her village mate, Jeremy, 10, who goes to the same school. SK Pandan Mandamai, echoed her, saying he is used to the travel. However both agreed that travelling in a school bus is much better.
Jeremy’s mother Fauziah Indod, 31, a housewife is very sad that her children have to travel so far to school and hopes that something can be done to make their life easier.
“Road and electricity are very important to us. We need the road to enable us to travel to town when we need to attend to important matters there and the electricity for our needs and for our children to study in comfort,” she said.
Another villager Modumis Masiau, 53, who owns a boat, in his own way helps his fellow villagers as he collects the produce from them to sell in town.
“I usually go to town twice a month to sell the village produce. But it is hard work. Sometimes when the water is shallow, I have to pull my boat. Its better when its high tide as I can use the boat engine,” he shared.
He is very keen to see a road into the village as he can do better with his business if there is transportation.
Pastor Sitimin Majanim agreed that the road should be prioritized by the relevant authorities. He said they had to use church funds amounting to RM9800 to pay for an excavator to maintain the road recently.
Another villager, Kalawis Kundihol, 66, only hopes for a proper house. The elderly man who looks quite frail shares that his house is no longer fit to dwell in but he has no choice as he has no means of making another one.
“I have six children. They all live here but four of them are married now and have their own family. Two of my sons are still under my care. Unfortunately one of them is disabled due to a mishap a few years ago. Now he is being cared of by his mother in her parents’ house. They can’t live with me as my house is in terrible shape,” he shared.
This man was born in the village, of parents who were settlers there. He is a sustenance farmer who plants tapioca and bananas. Those are his source of food. He once planted paddy but they were always destroyed by pests so he gave up.
He stressed that he had applied for a Poverty Eradication Programme House (PPRT) but he has yet to see plank or nail of it, except for a huge water tank donated by some NGO.
Juni reiterated that all they want is a good road and electricity so that their village can start its development.
“There are other important facilities that we don’t have such as a clinic and treated water, but for the moment all we want is a good road and electricity as I believe these amenities can contribute to a better life for us,” he stressed.
Kg Kobon may be an idyll village but the villagers want it to be an ideal village, with provision for all-round development of the people. –ce/BNN