Folks of Kg Merdang Lumut riled up over road workers’ ‘heartless’ attitude

Jack (third left) shows George (centre) the police report in the presence of other Hidup members at Kampung Merdang, Kota Samarahan yesterday (Oct 25, 2020).

KUCHING, Oct 26: Non-governmental body Hidup has criticised workers of a road expansion project along Jalan Dato Mohd Musa-Jalan Muara Tuang for not being considerate of local residents, especially those in Kampung Merdang Lumut.

Habitat for Indigenous and Urban Programme (Hidup) president George Young Si Ricord Jr revealed he had received numerous complaints concerning the project’s implementation in the affected area.

“We acknowledged that these works are inevitable and we are not against development for the betterment of these communities. However, certain precautions must be taken and statutory obligations complied with by the employees and contractors involved.

“But the attitude and manners exhibited by these employees (of the contractor) when carrying out their work within the local community has created ill will and even hostility,” George disclosed in a statement today.

He urged the relevant local authorities and contractor to exercise restraint and decorum in dealing with the local residents.

George cited an incident which happened on the evening of 21 Oct at approximately 7pm when Jack Baie Saing and his family returned home to Kampung Merdang Lumut and found their mini orchard in front of their house had been completely destroyed.

“Trees which have been planted for a few years and bored fruits were excavated and destroyed. There was no prior notification given to the family of the ongoing works nor authorisation letter from these employees to Jack and his family.

“Subsequently a police report was lodged by Jack’s family on the list of destroyed fruit trees from his orchard. This was done following the non-response from the employees on the form of compensation for Jack’s property loss,” he added.

George revealed the resulting work has led to water run-off and mudslides following heavy rain from the main road into Jack’s house compound. Previously the trees acted as a buffer to reduce water run-off from the main road.

Water pools in Jack’s house compound as a result of water run-off from the road expansion project during heavy rain.
Water pools in Jack’s house compound as a result of water run-off from the road expansion project during heavy rain.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Hidup members visited the affected site to look at Jack’s house to better understand the family’s situation.

Jack informed George that his and three other households have been occupying the said land for approximately 30 years. The houses are all connected with electricity and water supplies and the families have been paying annual assessment rates.

“Throughout their occupation of the said land for approximately (30) years they had never been issued any eviction notice by the Land and Survey Department nor the Samarahan District Office,” George disclosed.

He added that the workers should have waited for Jack’s family to return home before proceeding to destroy their fruit trees. — DayakDaily