TRANSFORMATION: Villages undergo changes, thanks to a road completed two years ago
KOTA KINABALU: A STRETCH of road completed two years ago has transformed the lives of villagers living in the scenic Kokol hills, 25km from here.
Once isolated because of poor access, the 1,000-odd residents of four villages have made gradual progress with the new stretch of road costing RM30 million.
Rubber tapper Rodizlee Mojinol, 29, said Kokol, located 800m above sea level, was also a tourist attraction now because of its scenery that fronts the city, with the Crocker Range as the background.
"This used to be a quiet area where, occasionally, you would get to see a four wheel drive vehicle passing through.
"But now, you can see people visiting us almost every day," said Rodizlee.
Several resort lodges here have gained popularity.
Rodizlee said most of the villagers were farmers and rubber tappers, although they still cultivated seasonal fruit trees and planted rice, vegetables or tapioca for their own consumption.
"The road has made it easier for us to sell and distribute our produce," he said at a roadside sundry shop, one of the many that has mushroomed in the area.
There are four villages within the Kokol hills area -- Senegang, Tombongon, Togung and Tomboriudon.
City dwellers identify the area by pointing to the hills at St Joseph's Cathedral, whose white walls stand out in the greenery.
Sundry shopkeeper Boina Ginsi, 51, said life was hard before the road was built, especially when it came to buying supplies from the nearest township, Menggatal.
They had to hire four-wheel-drive vehicles for transportation.
"Our children had to walk the dusty or muddy gravel road to school," she said referring to two schools in the vicinity, SK Kokol and SK Poring-Poring.
Those days, children who attended secondary school had to stay in boarding houses or live with people in the city area because it was difficult for them to travel back and forth every day.
"Our lives have changed for the better with the road and we are grateful," said Boina, who added that the only setback was that the area was now becoming busy and attracting irresponsible motorists.
The smooth and wide steep road, made people with souped-up cars used it as a "race track to show how fast they can drive", she added.