PENAMPANG: The Rural Development Ministry is looking to gazette villages located within forest reserve areas to enable the villages to receive maintenance and development allocations.
Its minister, Datuk Ewon Benedick, said it was not fair for communities in those villages who were unable to receive allocations all this while, not only from the government but also from initiatives by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporate companies.
“This is a big issue in Sabah where many villages are still within forest reserve areas, which renders them unable to receive maintenance and development allocations, due to Forestry Department policy.
“Not only are they unable to receive government allocation, it is also difficult for NGOs and corporate companies to bring their community projects to these villages.
“We cannot deny these communities their rights to development just because their village is located in a forest reserve.
“Common sense tells us that we should at least gazette the roads leading to the villages so that maintenance work could be carried out,” he said.
According to Ewon, a meeting had been held to find a solution to the matter while a pending meeting is in talks, with the direction towards gazetting those villages and roads leading to them.