Sarawak govt to set up special taskforce to investigate Baleh River logjam

The logjam affecting the Baleh River on Aug 22 at 1330 hours.(Image courtesy of Sarawak Energy)

KUCHING, Aug 26: The Sarawak government will set up a special taskforce committee led by the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources to conduct a thorough investigation on the logjam incident at the Baleh River and to find solutions to mitigate the issue.

Forest Department Sarawak director Datuk Hamden Mohammad emphasised that the Sarawak government is equally concerned about the impact of the logjam not only on the environment but also on the livelihood of the people along the river.

“The committee will consist of various government departments and agencies including other stakeholders.

“The Forest Department Sarawak will also tighten monitoring measures to ensure this unfortunate incident would not recur in the future,” he said in a statement issued today.

Aware that the logjam incident in Baleh River and Rajang River has attracted a lot of attention and drew criticisms from the public and various quarters, Hamden pointed out that all affected timber licensees and contractors are jointly responsible for this incident, especially to clear and remove the debris.

“The government has approved salvage logging activities since 2015 in the area that will be submerged for the purpose of Baleh HEP (Hydroelectric Dam) development.

“The approved salvage logging activities are subjected to full compliance of harvesting rules and regulations,” he explained.

Based on ground verification and aerial surveillance conducted by Forest Department Sarawak and other government agencies such as Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), Sarawak River Board (SRB) and Sarawak Energy on Aug 22, Hamden said that the incident was caused by accumulation of wood debris at Baleh HEP dam site and then came out through diversion channel to enter the Rajang River.

He added that an extreme heavy downpour of more than 100mm on Aug 21 triggered the movement of the debris and the massive surface run-off.

“However, the situation has subsided after the rains stopped in the upper Baleh area,” he said. — DayakDaily