“It takes two to tango” — Julaihi urges landowners to allow telecom infrastructure construction

Julaihi (second right) activates a gimmick to launch the SMART project as others look on. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Aug 9: One of the major obstacles that could hinder the progress of telecommunication infrastructure projects in Sarawak is ‘way leave’ or permission to access private land for towers to be built and cables to be laid. 

As such, Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi has called for public co-operation and support as it takes two to tango for any project to succeed in which the local people will benefit in return. 

“Some people disallowed project implementers and contractors to pass through their areas. This becomes a major hindrance to the progress of building telecommunication towers (telco towers) that have been approved by the Sarawak government. 

“We hope to get full support and collaboration from all parties as the implementers face numerous challenges. Apart from topographical and accessibility challenges especially in rural areas, another major obstacle is the way leave.

“Way leave (right of way granted by landowner in exchange for payment for the purpose of a project) is very serious,” he told a press conference after representing Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg at the launch of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (Smart) project in Nanga Sekukut, Kapit today.

If people request for development to be brought in but do not give the necessary permission, Julaihi stressed, implementing agencies and contractors could not get their work done which involves not only building telco towers and laying fibre optic cables but also constructing water and electricity supply infrastructure. 

“As people request for connectivity to be accelerated, at the same time, we also request that there are no hindrances to the implementation of these projects (telco towers) in the near future. 

“It must go both ways. It cannot be you ask for network coverage but you block our need to access the areas for construction to take place. This becomes a major obstacle for us. So we seek the collaboration from all parties,” he emphasised. 

On compensation to for the use of private land, Julaihi said that the Sarawak government has been fair and will pay the landowner what is due based on current market value. 

“This applies to NCR (Native Customary Rights) land as well, except for State land which belongs to the government which sometimes could pose a tricky situation. 

“So we seek the full cooperation from everybody regardless of your ideology, stand and so forth because our aim is to expedite the construction of telecommunication infrastructure throughout the State so that we can achieve better network and Internet connectivity in the near future,” he said. 

The Sarawak government, he added, is very proactive in expediting the construction of telecommunication infrastructure as it has a clear agenda which is to steer Sarawak towards the digital economy and give people the edge to grow.

Deputy Telecommunication Minister Datuk Liwan Lagang, Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation Berhad (SDEC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and Bukit Goram assemblyman Jefferson Jamit Unyai were among those present. — DayakDaily