Thieves are stealing longboats at Bakun Lake — Masing

File photo of Bakun jetty.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, March 4: With its size as big as Singapore, the Bakun hydroelectric power (HEP) lake is now home to many folk from the Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme.

They have ventured back to claim their ancestral land at the lakeside. Many of them also opted to build the ‘jelatong’ (floating houses) for homestays and personal uses.

There is an access road to the jetty at the lake, but this infrastructure has given rise to a new social ill — longboat thefts.

According to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, the stealing of longboats had become rampant at the lake as it is the main mode of transportation.

“The stealing of longboats is rampant in Bakun lake. While I was there for three days, I met a man whose boat was stolen for the second time from Bakun jetty. He waited for two days by the jetty hoping to catch the thief.

“Longboats are the main form of travelling along the lake. Without it, the residents of Bakun will be rendered hopeless and helpless to earn income from the produce of Bakun,” Masing said here today.

Masing (seated in front) and his relatives taking a group photo near a farmhouse at the Bakun lakeside recently.

Masing, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation and also Upper Rejang Development Agency (URDA) chairman, disclosed that he was seeking assistance from Sarawak Energy to build a better jetty with proper safety features.

“URDA has the funds ready to build a road to Bakun lake along with the jetty with the help of Sarawak Energy. URDA hopes to start constructing the road and jetty early this year,” said Masing.

Datuk Liwan Lagang

When contacted, Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang urged the relevant enforcement agencies, such as the Marine police and Sarawak Rivers Board, to coordinate their operations in the lake.

“We also hope that Sarawak Energy will put their security guards at the jetty to provide security in the area,” said Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Water Supply. — DayakDaily