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Attractive deal for Kaiduan folks
Published on: Saturday, November 11, 2017

Penampang: The Sabah Cabinet agreed that villagers who will be affected by the proposed RM2.8 billion Kaiduan Dam here should be given better infrastructure and guaranteed livelihood to help them start a new life in new surroundings.

This also includes proposals for compensation, relocation and livelihood benefits due to the implementation of the project.

At the moment, a total of 240 families from Kg Tiku, Kg Timpayasa and Babagon Laut – three villages which would have to make way if the project gets implemented – have been identified to be resettled.

State Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said 1,300 acres have been identified near Babagon Laut where the proposed settlement is to be relocated with 0.3 acres allocated to each household head.

This is besides resettlement allowance of RM10,000 per household, payment of "sogit" (customary fines) for burial grounds as well as options to compensate loss of land including crop and buildings.

Pairin said each household would also receive five acres of agricultural land and a RM500 monthly allowance for the next three years.

"Do not think only of the present or for the next five years. Think what will happen in 50 years.

Where do you want your children to be? In our lives, we need to have plans, hence the development projects," Pairin said in Dusun.

A source said some of the villagers had approached the Water Department and were satisfied with the facilities in the new settlement.

Pairin said the compensation package was "better than what other governments are offering".

"Many of these people are just eager to sign up because they also want to move nearer to the cities," he said.

The resettlement area is on 1,300 acres of land in Penampang and Papar, with 30 acres reserved for housing while the rest for infrastructure and agricultural land.

The current villages are only accessible by 4WD vehicles. The other mode of transportation is by foot, which would take hours.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the house structure has also been done, adding that infrastructure facilities such as schools, health clinic, police hut, church and surau, proper sewerage and waste management, wireless telecommunication, electricity and water were also proposed.

He said there are also plans to construct sealed roads measuring about seven kilometres from Timpangoh all the way to Kg Terian at a cost of RM70 million.

He said this will connect them to other villages and also provide infrastructure for economic activities and hoped it would uplift the people's economic activities as well as their comfort.

Pairin said this during a dialogue with stakeholders on the Kota Kinabalu Water Supply Phase 3 project and a handful of villagers at the Mini Dewan Kg. Terian, here, Friday.

Meanwhile, Pairin was interrupted several times by a man in the audience, believed to be a villager from Kg Terian, who had to be escorted out of the premises by another villager with help from a Civil Defence Force personnel for trying to disrupt the dialogue.

Villagers put up banners and posters along the way to protest against the proposed water dam project.

Some were heard shouting "Stop Kaiduan Dam" and "ko kasi rosak jalan kami" (you are destroying our roads) as the Minister's entourage of about 40 four-wheel-drives drove by.

"I am not surprised the banners are there, it shows that those who protest are ready to tell us, especially the government to consider their comments," said Pairin.

"But some of the words written on the banners have gone overboard, one even had something like 'curse for seven generations'… is that good to say that, it doesn't show a good heart.

"We take into consideration the needs of those who would be affected by the proposed dam … thus the reason we come here.

"It shows that the group who protest, will continue to protest without considering our rationale.

Hopefully with the visit this time, with detailed explanations, they will be more sincere in evaluating, we do not want them to be emotional," he said.

"The river in Terian will not be affected, Buayan also not affect, they can continue living the way they want, but we hope when the road is through, it will uplift their economic activities and also their comfort," he said.

The protest which dates back to 2009 came from villagers in Ulu Papar who worry about their future which they felt was no longer secure if the dam was built.

The State government was however bent on pushing for the construction of the proposed dam which would involve 5.2sq km said to give Sabah a head start in resolving water crisis expected to hit many parts of the region for the next 30 years.

The dam water storage is estimated 175 million cubic metre and serve Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Tuaran, Putatan , Penampang.

Several quarters are in favour of the dam and they do not agree to a mere few hundred villagers placing their interests above that of the larger population. They also hoped that the Government, on its part, would honour whatever is promised to the villagers.

They note that protests were also held when RM200 million Babagon dam was being built in 1990 and that the State Capital and its surroundings would be in a worse situation today with global warming and increasing population if the protestors had their way.

Feasibility studies on the social and environmental impact of the Kaiduan mega dam project are still being done and reported to be at the final stage.

Also present were his assistant ministers Datuk Bobbey Suan and Datuk Ghulam Khan Bahadar as well as Penampang District Officer Luvita Koisun among others. - Sherell Jeffrey

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