| Hakim Hayat |
TENS of thousands of people converged in the Capital last evening to witness the opening of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge, yet another milestone in the five decades of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s reign.
The opening of the 750-metre bridge, the Sultanate’s first cable-stayed bridge that links the capital to Kampong Sungai Kebun in Mukim Lumapas presented a grand spectacle which saw the Brunei River, home to the iconic Kampong Ayer, transform into a sea of colours with a decorated floats and boats procession and a spectacular fireworks display that illuminated the new bridge.
People from all walks of life came in droves and lined the banks of the Brunei River to witness the much-anticipated event and the slight drizzle did not dampen their spirits to celebrate the historic occasion which was also held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne.
His Majesty with Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha binti Al-Marhum Pengiran Pemancha Pengiran Anak Haji Mohamed Alam and members of the royal family graced the glorious event last evening.
Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah binti Pengiran Haji Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, the Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Nasibah and other members of the royal family.
Upon arrival at the royal dais in front of the Tarindak D’Seni Building in Jalan Residency, Their Majesties were greeted by the executive members of the Sectoral Committee of His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee Celebration.
Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong who is also the Joint Chairperson of the executive committee and sectoral committee in his welcoming remarks said that the completion of the bridge marks yet another milestone in His Majesty’s 50-year reign, demonstrating His Majesty’s utmost interest in the capital’s modernisation and infrastructure development, keeping with current needs for the convenience of the people and to spur further social and economic developments.
The highlight of the event was when Their Majesties jointly launched the new bridge, and later, His Majesty delivered an officiating titah where the monarch named the new bridge the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge.
A spectacular fireworks show, presented by the Tiong Hwa community in Brunei that portrayed His Majesty’s 50 years on the throne, illuminated the new bridge and the Brunei River as the bridge was officially launched.
This was followed by the decorated floats and boats procession that saw some 39 creative and colourful float designs put up by various government and private sector agencies. The floats started sailing from Kampong Tamoi Ujong and made their way along the Dermaga Diraja, Jalan Residency Promenade to finally reach the Sungai Kebun bridge. A cultural performance was also held to enliven the evening during the float procession.
Excited spectators lined up the banks of the Brunei River to witness the boat procession that was revived for the special occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebration. The boat procession was a regular feature in Brunei’s calendar during national celebrations many decades ago.
The finale of the event featured a spectacular 20-minute fireworks show, a first-of-its-kind in Brunei, put up by a renowned international fireworks show manager. The capital was showered in full glitz during the pyrotechnic extravaganza which did not disappoint the tens and thousands of revellers, most of whom arrived in the capital earlier in the day to secure their viewing spots.
The event last evening was another manifestation of His Majesty’s wise and visionary leadership over the last five decades, which has seen rapid development including the construction of mega infrastructures that have helped improve the socio-economic conditions of the people and the country.
The B$139-million bridge, which began construction in July 2013 spans across the Kampong Ayer in the Brunei River, connecting Jalan Residency in the capital to Kampong Sungai Kebun in Mukim Lumapas, is expected to reduce traffic congestion during peak hours especially for residents of Mukim Lumapas who usually take the route of Jalan Bengkurong and Jalan Tutong to make their way to the Capital.
Built under the 10th National Development Plan (RKN10), the bridge is adorned with a 157-metre tower in the centre that is topped with a 8.7-metre diametre dome that anchors the bridge to the Brunei River.
The bridge launch was one of the many prime events of the month-long Golden Jubilee Celebration of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne that saw people assemble in large numbers to express their appreciation to the monarch for his wise leadership that has enabled sustainable progress in the country.