Saturday, August 13

Racing against time


TEAMWORK: The writer (right) with officials from the Land and Survey Department Limbang and Kuching during the working trip to Lumut Sakai.

With increasing demand and approval for perimeter surveys, the Limbang Land and Survey Department has to work double-time to beat the 2015 deadline

WHILE the New NCR Initative has the approval of the Prime Minister as well as an allocated budget under the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), carrying out this initiative is harder than first projected.

Recently, thesundaypost Miri had the opportunity to join the Land and Survey staff to Lumut Sakai, one of the areas surveyed under the initiative in Lawas.

Among the challenges Limbang Land and Survey Department faced were rough terrain, unpredictable weather along with the need to balance New NCR Initiative survey work with other projects like NKRA.

Former Limbang superintendent Awang Zamhari Awang Mahmood said that their biggest challenge was shortage of manpower.

“With an increasing demand of perimeter surveys, our biggest hurdle is how to arrange the manpower so that we can achieve the target date of completion by 2015.”


Survey progress in Limbang

Three areas were surveyed last year, covering 1,372.3 ha which included two areas in Lawas – Sungai Banganga and Sahabat Baru, as well as Telahak/Binjai/Ulak/Meritam in Limbang.

This year, survey work will begin in 16 areas spanning a total 5,321.96 ha.

The eight in Lawas are Batu Dua, Kampong Pangi, Punang Berayong, Simpang Jalan Trusan/Sundar, Long Sukang, Lumut/Sakai, Sungai Melusok and Sungai Kenalian while those in Limbang are Paya Lakap, Kampung Bakol, Meritam, Benuas, Kampung Sayung/Sembiling/Batu Lapan, Kampung Pengkalan Rejab/Kelapa Mawar, Kampung Palas and Tadu/Sungai Cina/Pundut.

“First, we need to determine the area that needs to be surveyed which takes about one month for us to do so to ensure every information required for approval is complete.

“After that it is beyond our control. If HQ processes the requests quickly, then we proceed with the survey work. Typically HQ takes about two to three months because it has to cater for cases throughout the state and the applications keep on coming while the manpower and resources are still the same,” he said.


Ongoing disputes delay surveys


Other problems that arise even after the survey has been approved by HQ is when claimants continue to dispute about the boundaries, adding that of the 19 areas approved, three areas faced such problems.

The areas having community disputes are: Batu Dua (209 ha) and Kampong Sungai Melusok (510 ha),  Lawas and Sungai Tadu/Sungai Cina/Pundut (149 ha) in Limbang.

He said if the disputes could be resolved, survey work could be completed for Batu Dua within 20 days, Melusok, 69 days and Tadu/Sungai Cina/Pundut in 29 days.

“For Batu Dua, perimeter surveys were carried out at the beginning of the year and in Melusok we have almost completed 70 per cent of the perimeter survey but had to stop due to the disputes,” he said.

Awang Zamhari said in addition to implementing the New NCR Initiative, his staff have to ensure the success of other projects such as the National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) projects and those under the tenth Malaysia Plan.

He said that the Limbang Division has one of the most projects under NKRA which also   has seven kampung traditional lots to be surveyed this year.

The kampungs involved include Kampung Pangi, Kampung Bukit Manang, Kampung Temanggis, all in Lawas and in Limbang, Kampung Ulak, Kampung Lubok Piasau, Kampung Buang Abai, and Kampung Kelapa Mawar.

“We also have to complete them within this year, and there are more than 400 lots. Pangi alone has more than 100 lots.” So far they have completed Kampung Pangi and Ulak. The rest are still ongoing and will be carried out this year.

Awang Zamhari requested the villagers’ full cooperation so that they could carry out the perimeter surveys smoothly and keep the surveys on schedule.

“We greatly need to have clear-cut boundaries even before they apply for their land to be surveyed: it will be lot easier for the surveyors to carry out their work.”

He assured the landowners that after the completion of survey work, the land will be gazetted as Native Communal Reserve under Section 6 of the Sarawak Land Code.

The gazette will be kept at the Land and Survey Department as well as the District Office. A copy will also be extended to the community head.

“The gazette itself is legal proof that their lands  have been surveyed and rightfully belongs to the community here.” he stated.


Challenges during surveying


Meanwhile, head surveyor of the team designated to Lumut Sakai area in Lawas, Chia Kim Tu, 49, said that although survey work was nothing new to him, the implementation of the New NCR Initiative posed a great challenge.

Apart from having to complete the work on schedule, they faced a host of other challenges like difficult terrain and unpredictable weather conditions.

“We need to traverse difficult terrain which can range from hilly, to mountainous and swampy areas,” he said, adding that they would have to walk an average three hours a day to reach the sites. “Of course, the other challenges in the jungles are wild animals.”

At times they have had to stay in the jungle for an average five days before going out to find rations. “Then we would have to stay another five days before replenishing our rations again. We get no comfort or luxury,” he explained.

Chia and his surveying team are currently doing survey work at Lumut Sakai which include six predominantly Malay and Kedayan villages : Kampung Pangi, Kampung Punang, Kampung Punang Jaya, Kampung Sualai, Kampung Bukit Naga and Kampung Siang-Siang Laut.

The perimeter survey of 36.2 kilometres for the 760 ha of NCR land in six villages  began July 5 and is expected to be completed within 91 days.

Meanwhile, several community leaders from Lumut Sakai interviewed recently were full of praise for the commitment of the government and Land and Survey Department in carrying out the perimeter survey.


Far-reaching impact


Kampung Punang penghulu Reduan Tahir said the perimeter survey would have a far reaching impact for the landowners. “ More capitalists would like to have joint-ventures in developing our idle lands for commercial agriculture which could further improve our quality of life.”

Village heads Bahar Nasir, 60, of Kampung Siang-Siang Laut and Pini Idris of Kampung Bukit Naga assured their support to the surveyors in carrying out their work.

“It is a very commendable effort as the land titles guarantee us and our future generations a future and we can develop our lands without fear of them being taken or claimed by others parties,” said Bahar.

Pini hoped that more areas could be surveyed so that more landowners could benefit.

Lumut Sakai is about a 15-minute boat ride from Kampung Punang, one of the major producers of ‘Ikan Tahai’ (smoked fish) in Lawas.