Federal and Sabah state governments should immediately launch a two-week state-wide survey headed by Veveonah Mosibun to ensure that accidents like the collapse of the suspension bridge at Kampung Gusi, Ranau causing student injuries because it was the only spot to gain internet access would not recur in Sabah
We have not learnt from the Veveonah Mosibun Incident, where the 18-year-old lass from Pitas had to spend 24 hours on a tree-top to gain Internet connectivity to sit for an online examination, although the Youtube of her experience had so far netted 855,231 views.
Now, less than six months later, eight students between 15 and 18 years old in Kampoung Gusi in Sabah’s interior district of Ranau were badly injured when the suspension bridge which was the few spots at night in their village to gain internet access gave way.
The students had been on the bridge in Kampung Gusi at around 9 pm on Monday when the wire mesh and wooden bridge collapsed.
The bridge is about 10 years old and there had been on-and-off repairs, but is rickety.
The student fell about 19 metres, with one 16-year-old girl broke her bones in her thigh and shin and while a boy suffered spinal injuries, while the rest reported light injuries.
Kampung Gusi is 80km away from the nearest town of Ranau. The journey is a six-hour drive requiring a four-wheel drive vehicle to manoeuvre through its muddy perilous roads.
Sabah has been suffering from poor infrastructure, facilities and internet connectivity particularly in rural areas of Sabah now that schools have closed and classes have gone online and students have to rely on internet access.
In June, Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin gained national attention after she made an online video of herself camping atop a tree near her home town in Pitas as that was the only way she could reliably get online to take her university tests then.
Veveonah gained national celebrity and from a tree-top girl she became a Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) scholarship student and even to dinner with the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the Sabah state general election in Seplember.
But has the Prime Minister resolved the poor infrastructure problem, especially internet connectivity during the Covid-19 epidemic, when schools are closed and classes have gone online?
The collapse of the suspension bridge in Kampong Gusi, Ranau is a clear answer of “No”!
The promise of faster action and more money to close the digital divide in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia so that no Malaysian student need to spent 24 hours on a tree-top or crowd with other students on a rickety suspension bridge in a remote kampong to get better Internet connectivity have still to be resolved.
What happened in Kampong Gusi, Ranau is an indictment in particular on the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Communication and Multi-media and the Sabah State Government.
I call on the Federal and Sabah state governments to immediately launch a two-week state-wide survey headed by Veveonah Mosibun to ensure that accidents like the collapse of the suspension bridge at Kampung Gusi, Ranau causing student injuries because it was the only spot to gain internet access would not recur in Sabah
The Kampung Gusi Incident should be a reminder to the Sabah Chief Minister, Hajiji Mohd Noor, of his 26-year promise when he stood as an UMNO candidate in 1994 general election to resolve the problem of poor infrastructure in Sabah, to reduce poverty and illiteracy in Sabah to zero and to eradicate corruption and the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Based on what Hajiji promised 26 years ago, he should be the first to act on the Kampung Gusi Incident, as the Kampung Gusi Incident should not have happened if Hajiji’s 26-year promises had been honoured.
Will the Sabah Chief Minister support the establishment of special Federal-State Government task force headed by Veveonah Mosibun to address the problem of poor Internet connectivity faced by problems in remote areas in Sabah interior?