Tuesday, March 19

NREB to come up with comprehensive report on logjam — Controller


Aerial view of the massive logjam upriver of Bakun HEP dam.

KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) will come up with a comprehensive report on the massive logjam above the Bakun HEP dam, revealed NREB controller Peter Sawal.

He said currently, NREB personnel and staff from other government agencies such as the Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Sarawak Rivers Board were at the site to compile the report.

“We need to compile a comprehensive report to be presented to the Chief Minister by the end of March or early April. The initial report on the phenomenon (massive logjam) seemed to indicate a combination of activities both due to man-made and natural causes,” Peter told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He said the NREB team and the other related government agencies had to be stationed at the site at least for a period of time so that they could come up with a comprehensive report.

“As the lead agency, we need to spend time to produce a comprehensive report to the Chief Minister and how to address the environmental issue,” he pointed out.

Peter added that the massive logjam was now about 60 to 180 km upriver from the Bakun HEP dam.

He stressed that the issue must be addressed now before the massive debris reaches the 10km radius from the Bakun HEP dam area.

A recent photo of the massive logjam upriver of Bakun HEP dam.

“The bottleneck now is on the upper reaches of the Balui River which is narrow. It is there that we must find a solution to this problem,” he emphasised.

Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagan, on the other hand, slammed the Forest Department for denying that there were logging activities in upper Bakun area.

“Insofar as I am concerned, there are still massive logging activities in the area. So I hope they will go to the ground and investigate properly,” he advised, saying he found this out during his recent trip to the area by helicopter to investigate the impact of the logjam on the local community.

Liwan, who is also the Assistant Minister for River Transportation and Safety, said six villages – Long Unai, Long Busang, Long Jawe, Sang Anau, Naha Jale and Long Kaboho with a combined population of more than 2,000 people – that still depended on river transport were now greatly affected by the logjam.

Meanwhile, Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong urged the relevant authorities to investigate the logging activities in the area to see whether there were any elements of illegal logging.

“If it is illegal logging, then we are losing a battle against the perpetrators as we will bear the burden to clear the massive debris as well as not getting anything in return as revenue for the government. But if it’s legal then at least we have revenue from them,” he pointed out.

But either way, he hoped the government would find a quick solution to the problem as it was causing the people from the various villages who use the Balui River to go to Bakun HEP jetty a major headache.

Recently, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg assured that the state government through Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) would tackle the logjam and other environmental issues as the Bakun HEP Dam had been acquired from the federal government.