Some villagers unhappy at missing out on compensation for land acquired for roads — Manyin
KUCHING: It was a case of unfulfilled promises and missing out on a ‘lucrative’ land compensation deal that had led to the recent dispute involving some residents from 10 villages in Tebedu.
Its assemblyman Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong told a press conference yesterday that the villagers who demonstrated by blocking the access road
to the logging area on Sunday were unhappy that they were not part of the group that received the lucrative RM40 per square metre compensation for land affected to build the road.
“When the problem was first reported to me, I was told that all the affected villagers rejected to having their lands used to build logging roads.
“When the contractors went into the area to start building its road, it offered villagers a lucrative compensation which led to the villagers agreeing for their lands to be used.
“Those whose lands were not affected are the ones who are angry and causing this ruckus,” explained Manyin, adding that more than 90 per cent of the villagers did not receive the compensation.
The Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister held the conference at his office at Masja, Petra Jaya near here.
He added that another contributing factor was that the contractor was alleged to have changed the compensation rate from the second kilometre of roads built onwards.
The RM40 per square metre rate was only given for the compensation of land for the first kilometre of the road.
In addition, the villagers were also unhappy that the gravity feed water source damaged by the logging activities had yet to be replaced by the contractor as promised, he said.
“First compensation was for the land acquired to build the logging roads. Second was compensation for crops damaged when building the roads and third was for the affected gravity feed water source due to logging.
“Not all areas depend on gravity feed as they have treated water but the villagers prefer to use the gravity feed source to save cost.
“The contractor was willing to look into it and about three weeks ago, I have instructed the foundation (Sarawak Foundation) director to have a dialogue session with the villagers.
“Some of the promises made by the contractor have not been fully fulfilled,” he highlighted.
In light of the recent dispute, Manyin will get licensee Sarawak Foundation to deal with its appointed contractor and solve the issue once and for all.
Stating that the licence belongs to the foundation and not to individuals, he explained that the government has no authority over the contractor considering that it was hired by the foundation.
Manyin pointed out that Sarawak Foundation had already organised dialogues with the people twice.
“I attended one of the dialogues this year. It was a bit rowdy and I had to ask the foundation representatives to leave and I held the discussion personally with the villagers.
“Then we asked the relevant state administrative officer (SAO) and district officer to look into the details and apparently the villagers agreed to the compensation.
“Even the director himself, accompanied by the SAO went to Tebedu to hold discussion with the people but did not receive favourable response. We had requested for some 50 villagers to join in the dialogue but only village heads turned up as the people refused to attend,” he stressed.
Now that the residents are reported to be disappointed with their village headmen for allowing the private company to log their land without consent, Manyin asked why they had agreed to let their lands be used in the first place.
On Sunday, the villagers destroyed the bridge on the logging road.
They also put up a banner which read: “Hentikan pembalakan dan pampasan tanah NCR kami (Stop the logging and grabbing of our Native Customary Rights (NCR) land).”