Tuesday, July 27

Oil palm smallholders in dire need of proper road

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TAWAU: The oil palm smallholders at Kalumpang A are in dire need of a proper road to reach their land.

DEPLORABLE CONDITION: A section of a road used by the smallholders to reach their land and transport their harvest.

DEPLORABLE CONDITION: A section of a road used by the smallholders to reach their land and transport their harvest.

At the moment they have to use the roads of other estates to get to their farms.

Two of them, Hong Kim Sim and Rosman bin Amin, brought their plight to Tawau Member of Parlia­ment Datuk Chua Soon Bui who visited the area recently.

They thanked Chua for helping to coordinate with Tawau assistant collector of land revenue officer Munandar Tahir to expedite the approval and permission to build the road reserve at Section 1 next to Sime Darby plantation.

Hong said as most of the 30 smallholders had developed their land along the pro­posed 3km road, it is high time that a road is cons­tructed for their usage.

Kalumpang A has about 800 smallholders who are mostly planting oil palms on 10,000 acres of land.

Rosman said he and the other smallholders had been planting on the land for quite some time and had been requesting the government to repair or rebuild the two big bridges left by logging companies in the 70s.

Both bridges which were constructed with logs, had  collapsed and the small­holders have to use other roads which are also in deplorable condition.

Rosman said it had reached a critical stage that some of the smaller bridges which he helped to build were also collapsing.

It would affect hundreds of smallholders whose lots are located inland. Acci­dents could happen anytime in case the bridges collapse and it would be too late once lives were lost, he said.

Chua said the small­holders had been ap­pealing to the government but to no avail.

“They want to know why the government is not helping them to repair the roads and bridges even though they pay taxes to the government.

“They are asking why the plantations in Peninsular Malaysia are enjoying tarred roads while many smallholders in Sabah, especially in Tawau, are still suffering from deplorable road conditions, especially when they are doubled taxed.

“Some small­holders find it difficult to make ends meet as a result of the high cost of transpor­tation and vehicle mainte­nance and repairs,” she said.

The smallholders are hoping Chua would  bring their plight to the attention of the federal government so that their voices are heard.  They hoped the government would implement the 1Malay­­sia concept and help the smallholders at Kalum­pang A.

Chua, who is also the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice president, said she agreed that the government should look into the plight of the smallholders in Tawau as the affected plantations covered vast areas and they have been paying taxes and contri­buting to both state and federal revenues.

“Sabah oil palm industries have subsidised 2/3 of the cooking oil in Malaysia. It is high time that the govern­ment sets a master plan for repairing smallholders’ roads and bridges because these people continue to contribute to the state and federal coffers in a big way,” she pointed out.