KAPIT: Any development surrounding the proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam must ensure the interests of the local community are protected, said Baleh Development Committee spokesman Bujal Jantai.
During a dialogue on the proposed dam on Thursday, he pointed out that the people of Baleh were not against the project.
“We don’t reject the proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam, but our local interests must be assured. Being the stakeholders, we want transparency in the implementation of the project,” he said.
“It should comply with the local sentiments and expectations provided that the government and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) can fulfil the terms and conditions set by the locals.”
He called on those concerned with the development to consult the local community through proper channels such as the Baleh Development Committee, dialogues with the locals and community leaders, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Bujal stressed that Baleh folk wanted details such as the social impact, opportunities, sustainability of economic development, provision of basic amenities, as well as health and education programmes.
“Our main concern is future economic development for the locals. This must be taken care of before the said agencies are allowed to enter our areas. We don’t want any empty promises, we need to see, feel and touch the reality of it,” he said.
“The road to Putai must be constructed first, then we can talk about the development in our area.”
He said that many locals were experienced technically and also keen to explore possible business opportunities.
“Local business entities should be given priority based on their capabilities. The Baleh area is unique and outstanding where there are many capable businessmen around.
“Any business opportunities should be shared with the local contractors and suppliers. DUBS (Sarawak Bumiputera Chamber of Commerce) Kapit, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kapit and Baleh Development Committee should be consulted on this matter,” added Bujal.