Cars at Kampung Ayer

I really pitied the guy who accidentally reversed his car into the river from the parking lot in front of the Bubungan Dua Belas at Jalan Residency. Luckily he managed to escape from the car and was able to swim to safety. It still took the fire and rescue people a few minutes to find the car even though they had complete diving gear. Imagine if he had been in it, those few minutes would be the difference between life and death.

All of us who have driven through those areas must have noticed the number of cars parked alongside the riverbank belonging to the Kampung Ayer residents. It's a difficult situation for them given the parking areas that are available are never sufficient for the many cars that they owned. I know the Kampung Ayer residents parked wherever they can find parking spots throughout Bandar. I remembered when I was attached at the Marine Department which was based in the old Customs Department building some 16 years ago, how long we had to wait for the residents whose cars were parked at the department's carpark to move their cars out in the morning and then how difficult it was for us when we wanted to leave in the evening as they would already be crowding around there waiting for cars to go out.

Given that the residents parked their cars along the river, I am still amazed that the authorities have never built any barrier or any form of rails along the riverbank, if not to prevent the cars from going over, but at least give the drivers some form of indication of how near they are to the river edge. Last night during the BICTA awards, I asked my colleague who used to be the head honcho of public works why is it that the government never put up those barriers. He said the answer was somewhere along the line that a request was never put up and that nothing ever happened all this while. Besides there was this massive river front project which was supposed to widen the roads along Sungai Lampai which would include parkings and everything. Everyone assumed the project will take place soon and that there is no point in putting up temporary structures such as crash barriers etc. Still, it would have been worthwhile to put up as the river front project is still up for award. Sometimes I worry that something serious has to happen before we move to do something about it.

In the meantime, what else can be done? I understand that there are already several parking lots which can be used by the residents. Some required to be paid a minimal sum of about $1 per evening which included the Yayasan parking and the parking in front of the cemetery. These are not taken up by the residents, paying $1 a night can be quite expensive in the long run when there is free parking to be had. The Yayasan was only able to attract people who happen to live near the Yayasan building, so it is not taken up much by the Kampung Ayer residents. Another solution would be the 'park and ride' concept which is used extensively in Europe. Build a big parking lot somewhere further where there is space and then use a bus service to regularly ply between the parking area and the riverbank. That stil sounds expensive. A crash barrier along the riverbank would be cheaper. It would be cheaper still if accidental drowning deaths can be prevented.


Anonymous said…
there were previous cases of cars 'going overboard' into the Sungai Brunei few years back....
i use the road regularly and sometimes kesian to see nada ample parking spaces.. road users is also affected by them..
Anonymous said…
i totally agree with Mr BR on the parking problems for those Kg Ayer residents. Something must be done. Having a crash barrier would definitely help.
Yes, I think in Brunei something tragic really have to happen before an action is taken. Remember the father who lsot his children and wife in a similar accident a few years ago at the Ferry Terminal in KB? Only after that the authority put up a crash barrier. Similarly with poor road designs; someon really have to die for an improvement were to be made. Yes, it sounds morbid but it's the reality, lets face it.
Giving excuse like a project is being planned is not good enough. God knows how long ti takes before it's finally there. And don't tell us that no money is available; if we could have some money to have a grand celebration, why can't we have some money for this? And I seriously do not wish to see those Kg Ayer residents to be expected to pay up for parking fees. It's a burden enough for them taking a risk leaving their cars parked unattended somewhere, while expecting their cars to still have wheels and car stereo the next day.
Anonymous said…
Hmmm... about setting up a temporary barrier.. how about using the humble sand bag and let it sit at the edge of the bank. That way the driver knows s/he is at the edge when the tire bumps into it. Or anything for that matter that has the same affect. Thus when time comes for the project to proceed, it can be easily removed and reused.
Just a thought.
Anonymous said…

on one hand, you got to sympathise or maybe i shld use the word 'sympathise', probably put one's shoes in their place, for those living in kg ayer, its a necessity for them to park their car somewhere, and the closest it that stretch of land which is also closest to the jetty. But on the other hand, its an eyesore.

Besides that, its also dangerous, not only for car: you only need one incident like this for the bandaran to realise. goodness gracious! wonder the insurance cover that!

There are also no handrails along the embankment. Where is H&S in Brunei? do they exist? Maybe the obvious reason: budget! no money! no one raise it up! i bet there are! but no one in the ministry want to put their birkenstock down and make a stand. Tourism? bandaran? TCP?

I know they are trying to develop places ard bandar and those embankment area for pedestrain and cyclist. so come on!
Anonymous said…
I think the Kampong Ayer people are slowly being marginalized by the landlubbers.

Being part of Brunei's history, they should be permanently represented in the advisory sphere of His Majesty. Not the Cabinet or LegCo, a direct voice literally intothe boss' ear. They shouldn't be chipped away by people who have no idea how they live, who have been driving cars and now being driven everywhere.

They've already lost their fish market, what else? Their electricity?

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