This is one of the most important bridges in Sarawak for without it road travellers cannot reach Sibu and Kuching from Bintulu and Miri. I wonder how many people realise that. I would say that this is like one of the valves in our heart.
Besides that fact the first bridge which was a Bailey Bridge built in the early 60's made the Mukah and Balingian SLDB Oil Palm Schemes accessible from Sibu. A friend who graduated from Australia Julius Linggod brought his young Aussie wife Leslie to this newly developed and pristine equatorial rainforest. Leslie was well exposed to outback life and took everything in her stride : the shortage of water - the wooden huts- the lack of utilities - the lack of good conversation- and the mosquitoes.
When their first baby was about to be born he brought the heavily pregnant Leslie in his tattered old jeep all the way from the Mukah scheme to Sibu and left her to wait for her time. He went back to work immediately being very conscientious and loyal to the corporation. That drive would have taken them more than 8 hours one way. In the several years they were there they must have "eaten" lots of dust driving back and forth the long and bumpy Oya Road. According to Leslie to be in Sibu was like coming to civilisation for clean water and nice bed sheets and air conditioning. But Leslie over the years have become a great Sarawak Old Hand. Cheers to Leslie who has shown me what a gutsy woman should be like!
Julius and his family had a very good stint of work in this area before they moved to Peninjau in Miri several years later. Their stories are full of early development and the struggles of early oil palm schemes - some are heroic while many are touchingly nostalgic. A few are bittersweet. But as they move on...these memories become more endearing than ever.
Today when many of us (like Leslie and I) look at this bridge we often think of how many years of our lives have been sacrificed for rural Sarawak to make it better for our people.