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The Tatau Bridge span­ning 724 me­tres over the Tatau River is in the fi­nal stages of con­struc­tion. When com­pleted in Oc­to­ber this year, the bridge will link Tatau with Balin­gian and on to Mukah. It is part of the 928km coastal road from Kuching to Miri which is ex­pected to fin­ish in the next five years.

TATAU, Bin­tulu: In the olden days, mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture es­pe­cially bridges were linked to head­hunt­ing as it was be­lieved that the spirits of the be­headed would strengthen the foun­da­tion of these struc­tures.

Myth has it that the vic­tims would be be­headed and their heads buried deep be­neath the foun­da­tion of the mega struc­tures.

The younger they were, the stronger these struc­tures pur­port­edly were and the longer they sup­pos­edly lasted.

Even in modern times, old peo­ple in vil­lages would still scare young chil­dren to be­ware of strangers as the su­per­sti­tion or myth of head­hunt­ing for heads of chil­dren con­tin­ues to live on.

How­ever, all these myths and ru­mours of the need for heads for big in­fra­struc­tures, es­pe­cially bridges, were to­tally rub­bished by Erne Tiong, who is cur­rently the project man­ager of Kuala Tatau Bridge.

“To me, those kind of funny sto­ries are just hearsay. I can tell you this that any engi­neer­ing prob­lem has engi­neer­ing solutions, so the an­swer to build­ing strong bridges is purely engi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy,” he shared with the Bor­neo Post Ad­ven­ture Team ( BAT) 7 at the project site here yesterday.

He has been an en­gi­neer and a project man­ager for three ma­jor bridges in the last 16 years of his ca­reer.

“As a de­vout Chris­tian, I don’t even al­low my work­ers to erect any al­tar meant to ap­pease the spirits but in­stead, they should fo­cus to work as a team be­cause that’s where the strength is,” added Tiong, who is from Sibu.

The sun was high up and glar­ingly bright when the BAT 7 ar­rived late at noon.

It has been a long but a pleas­ant drive over 190km from Sibu, nav­i­gat­ing through crawl­ing traf­fic at cer­tain stretches where con­struc­tion of the Pan Bor­neo High­way was on­go­ing, slow­ing

To me, those kind of funny sto­ries are just hearsay. I can tell you this that any engi­neer­ing prob­lem has engi­neer­ing solutions, so the an­swer to build­ing strong bridges is purely engi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy.

down at bumps and cracks and tail­gat­ing heav­ily-loaded trucks or oil tankers, wait­ing for a chance to over­take.

At the Kuala Tatau junc­tion, it took an­other 30km drive to get to the bridge where corn stalks, ba­nana plants, co­conut trees and oil palms lined both sides of the road.

Mo­torists can stop at the few stalls along the road­side to cool them­selves down with co­conut wa­ter if the mid-year trop­i­cal heat gets too much to bear.

Af­ter meet­ing Tiong and get­ting briefed on the project, he brought us closer to have a look at the in­com­plete bridge span­ning 724 me­tres over the Tatau River.

Stand­ing on top of the bridge at a height of about four storeys, we were wowed by the panoramic view of the mag­nif­i­cent river that stretched for miles.

This was a rare op­por­tu­nity for photos, self­ies and we­fies that was worth ev­ery ef­fort.

In such in­tense heat, the work­ers were work­ing hard as they com­pleted the phase of work at the cen­tre of the bridge. The project was in fact pro­gress­ing ahead of sched­ule.

Tiong also gave a rare ex­pe­ri­ence to one of our BAT mem­bers to see the mas­sive tun­nel net­work in­side the bridge.

He ex­plained that the bridge is strength­ened with mas­sive steel bars and con­crete slabs and as­sured road users that the bridge would last.

It was the third such project un­der­taken by Tiong as project man­ager, with the fi rst be­ing the Lanang Bridge and the sec­ond, one of the bridges lead­ing to Tan­jung Ma­nis.

With the com­ple­tion of this bridge es­ti­mated for Oct 21 this year, Kuala Tatau will be linked to Balin­gian and Mukah di­vi­sion.

The project is part of the 928km coastal road from Kuching to Miri which is ex­pected to fi nish in the next five years.

To make that hap­pen, five ma­jor bridges, namely at Batang Lu­par, Batang Saribas, Batang Krian, Batang Igan and Kuala Ke­mena, cost­ing some RM2.5 bil­lion, will

Erne Tiong, the project man­ager of Kuala Tatau Bridge

have to be con­structed.

The coastal high­way is ex­pected to boost the ru­ral econ­omy es­pe­cially when all the ma­jor Sarawak Cor­ri­dor of Re­new­able En­ergy ( SCORE) projects are linked by these coastal roads.

The traf­fic jam along the Se­lan­gau-Bin­tulu road.

Tiong show­ing the mas­sive tun­nel deep in­side the Kuala Tatau bridge. The bridge is strength­ened with two tiers of con­crete slabs.

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