Friday, July 1

Logjams make river trips dangerous

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A strectch of the Sungai Linau upstream of the Bakun HEP lake is completely clogged up by floating logs and debris.

A strectch of the Sungai Linau upstream of the Bakun HEP lake is completely clogged up by floating logs and debris.

KUCHING: Many tributaries upstream of the Bakun HEP lake are now dangerous for navigation due to logjams caused by logging activities upstream.

Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong urged the relevant authorities to clear the debris so that the people living upstream could have safer trips to and from their villages.

“I just visited the area and it took my boat more than an hour to pass through a stretch of about 500 metres debris clogged Sugai Linau. The situation is very dangerous for those who still depend on these rivers upstream of the Bakun HEP Dam,” Ugak told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He said one of the worst rivers affected by the debris is Sungai Linau and the upper Rejang River between Long Jawe and Long Busang.

Ugak added that there were many people going upstream of the Bakun dam as they had taken up fishing as their profession after they resettled at Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme.

Belaga assemblyman cum Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang hoped the relevant authorities would draw a guideline on the responsibilities of Sarawak Hidro, the owner of the Bakun HEP dam and other agencies such as the Sarawak Rivers’ Board in clearing the rivers.

“But my hope is that logging activities around the lake should be stopped as the floating debris will continue to pose danger for those who have to depend on the rivers for their transportation to go fishing or hunting upstream of the lake area,” he said.

Meanwhile when contacted, Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd managing director Zilkifle Osman said the affected areas should be cleared by the loggers operating upstream of the dam.

He said Sarawak Hidro was only responsible for looking after the 5 km radius around the Bakun HEP Lake.

“But we also assist up to 10 km radius upstream because some people are still depending on the rivers as their only means of transportation especially those living in Long Jawe and Long Busang,” he said.

Zulkifle revealed that Sarawak Hidro has spent some RM60 mill in cleaning the debris within the dam’s reservoir area over the last 10 years.