48-hour ultimatum to stop encroachment

KUCHING: Villagers affected by the Bengoh Dam are giving 48 hours to the relevant authorities to stop the encroachment by a logging company into the land alienated to them near Kampung Semadang.

Bengoh Resettlement Scheme Liaison Committee comprising representatives from the four affected villages; namely Kampung Taba Sait, Pain Bojong, Semban and Rejoi said if the authorities failed to do so they would not move from their villages.

“We want the loggers out and stop the encroachment within 48 hours, or forget about resettling us.

“Whether the company is licensed or not, that is not the issue. The fact is that the government had promised to give the land to the families affected by the dam for us to carry out our agricultural activities.

“But what is happening now is when we visited the site on Monday we discovered several heavy machinery brought in by a local company to harvest the timber in the area,” committee chairman Itodio Peu Rayu told reporters here yesterday.

He said they were very disappointed with what they saw and decided to write to the relevant authorities to seek their assistance in getting the company to take out all their machinery and not to disturb the land any more.

“It is already very good that we have agreed to move out from our ancestral land and sacrifice so many things just to pave the way for the development of the dam for the benefit of the people.

“We were relieved when the government said that they will provide land for us to do our farming but we are not going to accept a logged area. In fact we made a decision that if the logging activities do not stop completely we will not move out. This is our condition now,” he said.

Peu said all these while the affected villagers had been very considerate to the extent that certain quarters thought they were naïve and tried to take advantage of them.

“We have been too considerate and in the end many people are trying to take advantage of us but not this time. You go and clear the land the government had already reserved for us we will stay put in our own land,” he said.

He said this to reporters when leading the committee members to deliver a memorandum protesting the logging activities to Kuching Resident Abdul Rahman Sebli Senusi as the chairman for Bengoh Dam Project Resettlement and Culture Sub-committee.

They however failed to meet the Resident in person and were forced to pass the memorandum to one of the officers at the Resident’s office.

Copies of the memorandum were also sent to Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos, who is Mambong MP, Assistant Minister of Public Health and Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil, Land and Survey Department, Agriculture Department and Pemanca Austin Dimin as the coordinator of the project.

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