Land acquisition among daunting challenges faced by Sacofa

Sacofa Sdn Bhd CEO and managing director Zaid Zaini.

By DD Team

KUCHING, Dec 26: Besides land acquisition, Sacofa also faces many daunting challenges such as the state’s vast and rugged terrains, assets’ theft and vandalism, and even protests by urbanites who perceived that telecommunication towers emit harmful radiation.

In pointing this out, Sacofa managing director cum chief executive officer Zaid Zaini said, in order to address these challenges, Sacofa has to continuously engage with the various stakeholders, in both rural and urban areas.


“Land acquisition is a big factor and when you got to decide with private land owners, that would be a totally different ball game altogether. And some of this land does not have a single owner but there are multiple owners.

“So, you not only have to negotiate with one person but with five people, for instance,” Zaid told DayakDaily in its ‘Spot On’ programme to be aired today.

He pointed out that once a certain site has been identified, then the company has to investigate to determine whether the land belongs either to the state or private owners.

“Once we identified certain locations based on coordinates, when the telecommunication providers decide the sites that they want, and the land belongs to someone, either to the state or private persons.

‘So, even though it belongs to the state there are processes in place so we got to make a submission to the Land and Survey Department and State Planning Unit because there may be plans for that particular place which may be earmarked for a future airport and so on. And that takes some time,” he said.

Citing peculiar cases, Zaid disclosed that constructing towers is never as easy as one thinks and Sacofa has to deal with them in different ways.

“We have a particular case where the land is located quite remote off the main road. So, we have to acquire the access road that leads to the land. So, that access road means that we have to deal with ten different owners of land.

“And (also) we have a case whereby the brother simply didn’t want the sister to benefit from rental (from the land to build a tower),” he said.

He also stressed that among Sacofa’s many other challenges is the low population density in Sarawak that proved to be a big challenge.

“To us, where we decide to go will depend on commercial viability and having the fund to ensure sustainability,” he said.

Additionally, power availability for the towers is also a factor Sacofa has to face.

“There is also a challenge for us as there are some towers which are not connected to the grid and we have to source power generators or even from nearby kampungs.

“And then, we also face theft and vandalism. So, in some cases we have to engage security guards to look after our towers as some parts are subject to theft,” he said.

On the other hand, Sacofa also faced problems in urban areas where the people were misinformed that living near a telecommunication tower is harmful to their health.

“There is a misconception of a tower’s emission of radiation being harmful to their health. Then they go as far as claiming that the tower can be cancer-causing. That’s something of a big headache to us,” he said.

Zaid explained that there are two types of radiation such as x-rays whereby it has ionizing power and has higher frequencies with ultra violet that penetrates the skin and breaks the chemical bonds in the body cells.

“When it comes to telecommunication signals, this falls under non-ionizing radiation. This means that these radio frequency waves fall under the low frequency spectrum that’s not so intrusive and that it doesn’t has the energy to alter the body cells,” he explained. — DayakDaily