KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — A video of a child making a dangerous river crossing in Pahang using a bridge that has been broken down for months — to allegedly go to school — has gone viral today.
In a video posted by Facebook user Siti Zaharah this morning, a young boy is seen with a man, both gingerly inching their way along the edge of a metal bridge that hung on only one side.
The two were seen holding on to each other and to the sole railing on the bridge using one hand each, with parts of the 1.24 minute video also showing the child clutching the man’s arms with both hands.
“The child of the mother [sic] is spirited and wants to go to school. But have to cross this sophisticated bridge...Already a year, no change at all...Suspension bridge at Pamah Aur, Bukit Betong, Kuala Lipis,” the Facebook post accompanying the video said.
The Facebook video, which shows Siti Zaharah’s husband and son, has been viewed 1.4 million times and shared by over 37,000 people at the time of writing.
The post with the video is now no longer visible or accessible on Siti Zaharah’s Facebook account, but two similar videos showing the duo crossing the river remain available.
One of these videos — a 1.13-minute long clip — also shared by Siti Zaharah this morning has been viewed 16,000 times and shared by over 200 people at the time of writing.
In response, Pahang JKR said on its Facebook page that the Lipis Public Works Department (JKR) had actually called for tender on the suspension bridge for the Pamah Aur village in the Lipis district, with the work scheduled to start January 8 and slated for completion on March 18, 2018.
“The work was scheduled to start on January 8, 2018 because the month of December is the rainy season. The contractor has already been ordered to start work immediately under the supervision of Lipis JKR.
“JKR cares about that issue and will work to speed up the building of that suspension bridge. Residents are urged to be patient and use the 3km-long alternative road for daily matters for the moment,” it said in a Facebook post.
In a separate Facebook post by the Friends of PDRM group, it said that the suspension bridge in the viral video had collapsed on January 24, 2017.
“The letter of approval to fix that bridge was received by the Office of State Treasury on October 20, 2017 from the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund (KWABBN),” the group said, noting that the tender was issued on December 21.
“That bridge links Kg. Seberang Jelai and Kg. Bukit Kota, Lipis. There are 300 residents. The use of that bridge is to send school children and others in Kg. Bukit Kota. The alternative road is Jalan Berchang-Koyan FT235,” it said, crediting the information to Friends of JKR.
Both Facebook pages shared a photo of a document dated December 21, 2017 by Lipis JKR to notify a company that it had accepted a tender worth RM462,414.40 for a 10-week project to repair the suspension bridge from January 8, 2018 to March 18, 2018.
In a report by Astro Awani, Jelai state assemblyman Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail denied he had not made efforts to secure repair works on the bridge and clarified that he had previously applied to JKR for said repair works to be carried out.
Wan Rosdy said the father in the video, Abdul Jalil Sulaiman, was satisfied with the explanation provided in a meeting between the duo.
“This matter is actually a misunderstanding where we can discuss and talk like family, where I stressed that safety be prioritised no matter the situation,” Wan Rosdy, who is also Pahang exco for state housing and municipal committee, was quoted as saying.
“We also have alternative roads but because of the floods, it is not passable. We also prepared JKKK boats as an alternative choice,” he said, referring to the Village Development and Security Committee by its Malay initials.
Siti Zaharah has since posted a Facebook post to say that Wan Rosdy had personally visited her husband to explain the status of works on the suspended bridge, before thanking and apologising to the state lawmaker.