‘Bridge cuts travel time, but border post delays remain’
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Feb 3: Commuters travelling by road to and from Brunei-Muara to Temburong yesterday lauded the convenience and time saved by the Friendship Bridge built to cross Sg Pandaruan.
However, they lamented the delays experienced at the border control checkpoints.
Gahat Hj Hassan, a resident of Kg Medait in Limbang who was attending a wedding function in the district that separated the two parts of Brunei, said since the bridge was completed and opened in December, travel time has been greatly reduced.
“Alhamdulillah, before this we had to wait for the ferry to arrive and it can take up to two to three hours,” she said.
“The only thing now is we have to wait for the whole process of (stamping) passports, but it’s not really a long wait compared to the past; it will probably only take around two to three minutes,” she added.
Meanwhile, Iqzal Hamid, a 33-year-old teacher working in Temburong who commuted twice a week, recalled how travel times were much longer prior to the bridge’s construction.
In the past, it would take him about two hours to drive to Bangar town in Temburong from his wife’s house in Bengkurong during off-peak seasons.
“If the traffic is smooth, sometimes it can take only an hour and a half to reach Bangar, but during peak times, the queue in Kuala Lurah can be up to four hours, while the queue for the ferry can reach two hours or more,” he said.
“Sometimes the total travelling time can be five hours, especially during the festive season,” he added.
Iqzal said that the duration of the journey stretch to seven hours for those who were unlucky.
“After the bridge I never experienced the queue anymore. But the queues from Temburong to Limbang and at Kuala Lurah is a different story… caused by a few (border control) counters opened,” he said.
Iqzal estimated that it now took up to 45 minutes to travel through to Limbang from Brunei-Muara, and then around 20 minutes from Limbang to Temburong.
“Basically, end to end, we can arrive (in) around one hour compared to the times when ferries were needed. We would have to wait for about an hour (to be ferried across),” Iqzal noted.
“Alhamdulillah, the bridge is a time-saver. Travelling is all right but the only problem is that if there are not many immigration counters opened (especially during festive season),” he reiterated.
He said that if the counters were able to meet the demands of the people especially during peak hours, the problem can be solved.
Abdul Munaim Hj Harun, who frequently visited his relatives in Temburong, also shared the same opinion.
He said the processing at the border control posts was what made travelling from Temburong to Kuala Lurah less convenient, particularly at the Malaysian immigration post.
“Before the Friendship Bridge was built, I had to wait for hours until it was my turn for the ferry; it will be at least an hour and the longest could be up to four to five hours,” he said.
“But Alhamdulillah, now I can cross the borders and commute from Bandar to Temburong (and vice versa) conveniently after the bridge was built,” he added.
source: The Brunei Times