Wednesday, December 6

Masing: Punish culprits


Authorities urged to investigate ecological disaster and make those responsible accountable

KUCHING: Whoever caused the massive influx of floating debris into the Rajang River should be punished, Minister for Land Development Dato Sri Dr James Masing said yesterday.

He said the latest case was the third such ecological disaster in Baleh, Ulu Kapit which caused so much hardship to the local people.

The first time was in Sungai Ga’at in 2008 and the second one happened in Sungai Tutoh last year.

“The latest one is the biggest as it stretches for about 250 kilometres from Ulu Baleh to Sibu town,” Masing told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

Masing, who is also Baleh assemblyman, blamed the disaster on uncontrolled logging in the upper reaches of Baleh River.

“I hope the relevant authorities would investigate the matter and make the culprits accountable,” he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), Roland Sagah said his agency had put up notices at public wharves informing the public and boat skippers about the danger posed by the floating debris.

“SRB will also find the source of the debris and get to the root cause of the matter. He added that they would possibly use a helicopter to check on the source.

“There are concerns about submerged logs as they can damage vessels. Boat operators have to be very careful,” said Sagah who is also Tarat assemblyman.

He observed that Batang Igan was also adversely affected but not the international waterways.

He said SRB would also ensure that the debris would not damage water mains and other facilities.

He said SRB’s other concern was the high tide which occurred yesterday evening. High tide could push the debris back upstream causing further clogging of the river.

“The authority is studying the volume of the debris

and how to help the State Disaster and Relief Management Committee to ensure public safety,” said Sagah.

He further disclosed that SRB would work closely with the Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB). Sagah said operation rooms have been set up in Sibu and Kapit to monitor the situation.