Sand extraction works washing away Muslim graves

Some of the graves on the edge of the river bank.

KUCHING, June 25: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Batang Lupar branch chief Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh is urging the relevant authorities to look into the sand dredging and extracting works along Sungai Saribas that has caused soil erosions to a Muslim cemetery in Seruai, near Bungin.

He told a press conference that the extensive sand extraction work had not only caused some 100 graves to collapse into the river but it might also affect the nine villages along the river.

“This is a serious matter because not only the Muslim cemetery has been affected, the nine villages nearby might be affected as well.

“The villages are Kpg Spaoh, Kpg Bungin, Kpg Belingan, Kpg Sebemban, Kpg Tanjung Asam, Kpg Serembang, Kpg Budak, Kpg Supa and Kpg Mangut,” he told reporters at the state PKR service centre at Sungai Maong bazaar here this afternoon.

Abang Zulkifli (right) speaking to reporters as PKR Sarawak information chief Vernon Kedit shows the photos they took during a site visit two days ago.
One of the graves at the Seruai Muslim cemetery sliding into the river as a result of the soil erosion.

Abang Zulkifli said a police report had been lodged on the issue so that the relevant authorities like the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), Land and Survey Department, Sarawak Rivers Board and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) could investigate the matter.

He revealed that when he went to the site two days ago, he was told that the company involved in the sand extraction work was Magna Focus Sdn Bhd and that they started working on that area since six years ago.

“If this work has been happening over the last six years, then why didn’t the authorities do anything about it after our Saribas assemblyman Mohammad Radzi Sitam had highlighted this issue since the last State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting?

“Has there been any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being done by the NREB before approving the sand extraction work?” Abang Zulkifli wondered out loud.

This morning, Saribas assemblyman Radzi also highlighted the issue, telling The Borneo Post that he had requested the Land and Survey Department to halt all sand extraction works and investigate the soil erosion issue affecting the Muslim cemetery there.

The stockpile yard located some 1km away from the Seruai Muslim cemetery.

Radzi also said he had brought up the issue during the last DUN sitting but it fell onto deaf ears.

He claimed that a representative from the Land and Survey Department had told him via a short message that Magna Focus had the licence to carry out the sand extraction work there until next year.

Radzi added that he was also told that the sand extraction work had never been carried out near the banks where the cemetery was located, but when Radzi inspected the site, the sand stockyard was found to be just one kilometre away from the cemetery. — DayakDaily