Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bengoh natives still blur about compensation package

Corrupt Barisan Nasional l KUCHING: The Sarawak government must pay the families and villagers who are affected by the construction of the Bengoh Dam adequate compensation that takes into account their immediate and long term needs.
Making this call, a former diplomat John Tenewi Nuek said the villagers had made a “tremendous and invaluable sacrifice” in leaving their ancestral sites.
“The affected villagers are making tremendous and invaluable sacrifices for the construction of the dam and it is only fair and just that they be given a comprehensive, adequate and fair package of compensation that takes into account their short-term as well as their long-term interests.
“All efforts must be taken to ensure that they don’t end up poorer and more marginalised.

“The mistakes of the Batang Ai and Bakun dams must not be repeated,” said Tenewi who is also a Sarawak PKR vice president.
Tenewi was responding to Bengoh assemblyman Jerip Susil’s rebut of the Auditor General’s Report 2010.
The report had stated, among others, that the resettlement location identified for natives affected by the construction of the RM315 million Bengoh Dam to be ‘unsuitable’ and ‘questionable’.
AG’s ‘outdated’ knowledge
Susil clarified that AG Report saying that the fact was outdated and that the report was based on the ‘initial site and not the present one’.
Susil who is State Assistant Public Health Minister said the original site was near Kampung Bayur whilst the present site was between Semadang in Penrissen and Ski-o in Bau.
“We were informed that initial proposed resettlement site near Bayur was not suitable because the area was too hilly.
“That was why the present site between Semadang in Penrissen and Ski-o in Bau was then proposed,” he reportedly said.
Under the resettlement scheme, the 394 families and the 1,595 villagers from Kampung Taba Sait, Bojong, Pain, Rejoi and Semban would be given free houses and acres of land per family in the new location.
However Susil did not reveal details of the housing facilities.
A disappointed Tenawi said Susil’s comment was “vague and misleading”.
“Jerip (Susil)’s statement is very disappointing to say the least. It was vague and misleading.
“Even at this point when the dam is about to be impounded, Jerip (Susil) could not say what size of land and what type of houses would be given to these villagers.
“He said only they would be given ‘free houses and acres of land per family’.
“This is totally unacceptable.
“Instead of only vague and misleading promises the villagers by now should already know the exact compensations that would be given to them,” said Tenawi.
Compensation still not finalised
He said that under ‘normal’ circumstances, a project developer would have determined and finalised the compensation package before commencement of work on the project.
“Indeed, the compensation package should have been determined and finalised before the decision was made whether or not to build the dam,” he said.
He hoped the villagers, many of whom have big belian houses, would not have to move into homes which are “slightly better than chicken sheds”.

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