KUALA KANGSAR: The three-kilometre Manong Bridge linking Kampung Seberang Manong to Manong Town near here, is set to make an impact on the social and economic wellbeing of residents in the area.
Construction of the RM43.5 million bridge which was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak at the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-election in 2016, commenced on July 31 last year and is scheduled to be completed by July 30, 2019.
Manab Mohd Piah, 92, a resident of Kampung Ulu Piol which is located about four kilometres from Manong Town, said once the bridge is completed, residents, particularly students no longer have to go in a boat to reach their school in Manong town across the Perak River.
"It will be more convenient for the children as taking a boat is rather risky," he opined.
Noriza Ishak, 49, a trader at Dataran Amanjaya Manong located near the bridge said she anticipated that the area would be developed one day and had seized the opportunity to operate a business there.
"I've been thinking about opening a mini market near the square (Dataran Amanjaya Manong) because I believe once the bridge is ready, villagers from Kampung Seberang will flock here to shop because of the convenience.
"Presently we can already see them coming here for the morning market every Friday and night market every Monday," she said, adding, she started her business seven years ago after receiving an offer from Perak State Development Corporation.
Noriza who is originally from Manong and currently living in Sungai Siput, said the 40-minute daily trip was worthwhile as earnings were good and would potentially increase with the existence of the bridge.
"The journey from Kampung Seberang Manong to Parit which takes about an hour would be reduced by half to 30 minutes, and to Kuala Kangsar which takes 40 minutes, to 10 minutes," she said.
Meanwhile, Manong state assemblyman Datuk Kamil Shafie said the bridge would benefit more than 15,000 residents in Manong Town and Seberang Manong.
According to him, Kampung Seberang Manong comprises several villages including Kampung Ulu Piol, Kampung Suak Petai, Kampung Guar, Kampung Bekho, Kampung Kubang Udang and Kampung Mandah.
"Other than economic benefits, residents could also quickly reach Manong police station if they need to report a crime or the hospital in Kuala Kangsar in case of emergency.
"The bridge is also an advantage for those involved in agriculture such as rubber tappers and local fruit sellers who currently have to take the boat which operates from 6am to 6pm daily and charges RM1 per person and RM2 with motorcycle," he said.
Kamil said 90% of the government's pledges in the manifesto at the last election had been successfully implemented including construction of the Jerlun Chinese Hall, Kampung Ulu Piol Mosque and 1Malaysia Internet Centre in Manong town.
He said a 'Mini Arena' which could accommodate 500 people at one time had also been built at Dataran Amanjaya Manong next to the bridge.