Penans block gas pipeline project in Ulu Baram

NEGOTIATION TIME: Government officials negotiating with the Penans to dismantle their blockades.

MIRI: About 100 Penans from Long Meraan, Sg Magoh, in Ulu Baram, had set up blockades at five roads since Aug 7, to protest against the Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline project.

Friends of the Earth Malaysia (SAM) president SM Mohamed Idris claimed in a statement yesterday that the blockade was made following the failure of the company concerned to heed the plight of the people. It is also against the authorities for allegedly dishonouring their promises made to the Penans.

SAM quoted Long Meraan headman Belaweng Tunau as saying the laying of the pipelines had affected the villagers and environment negatively.

Among the negative consequences were destruction of jungle produce and river pollutions.

These had affected their source of income and clean water.

Following the blockade, Land and Survey Department personnel, police, and project sub-contractors met  the Penans on Aug 8 and 12, and persuaded them to dismantle the blockades.

However, their requests were turned down. Their assurance of paying RM15,000 to the villagers during the 15-day period needed to complete work in the area was also turned down.

The Penans vowed to continue with their blockades until all their four main requests are honoured. The main requests are (1) finding alternatives to reduce impact on the environment, including rivers, (2) provision of clean water supply, (3) payment of compensation, and (4) strict adherence to the guidelines of the project.

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