Rep suggests armed forces help transport rural folk to vaccination centres
0 month ago, 09-Jun-2021
Dennis (second right) checks on facilities in Long San clinic, which will begin Covid-19 vaccinations on June 12.
MIRI (June 9): The Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) has been asked to assist with transporting rural folk from their longhouses to Covid-19 vaccination centres.
In making the suggestion, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said transportation is the main dilemma faced by rural Sarawakians requiring vaccination.
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As assemblyman for one of Sarawaks largest rural constituencies, he pointed out transport could be a major setback to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
“We appreciate the initiative by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as quoted in today’s paper that ATM will lend its capabilities to the Ministry of Health to ensure Covid-19 vaccines arrive in rural areas, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
“However, I would like to point out to the ministry that our main issue here is transporting the rural villagers to the vaccination centres, which can take many hours on logging tracks depending on weather and road conditions,” he told The Borneo Post.
He also pointed out that current Movement Control Order (MCO) standard operating procedures (SOPs) only allow two people per vehicle, making it even more challenging to ferry thousands of villagers in the constituency to vaccination centres.
In addition, Dennis said the majority of Telang Usan constituents are farmers who do not own four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles.
Thus, they would have to charter a 4WD, which is costly as the current SOP only allows it to transport one passenger.
“In view of the challenging terrain, location between the villages, and the vaccination centre, the ATM’s expertise would come in handy, especially when it is equipped with facilities such as trucks, boats, and helicopters,” said Dennis.
He suggested ATM’s trucks, for instance, could be placed at any of the vaccination centres in rural areas for the purpose of transporting villagers to health clinics for vaccination.
At present, only Long Lama clinic is carrying out vaccinations for the constituency, which has 88 villages with a population of about 35,000.
“Starting June 12, two other clinics that have medical officers will be used as vaccination centres in Telang Usan to speed up the National Immunisation Programme. The two are Long Bedian health clinic and Long San health clinic,” added Dennis.
On transporting vaccines from Miri to these clinics, he said Telang Usan has no problem transporting the vaccines for because the clinics have their own 4WD vehicles to do so in batches.