Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thirty-km logjam in S'wak blamed on commercial logging

A 30km-long logjam along the Balui River in Sarawak has been blamed on commercial logging activities.

Balui River is about 130km from the Bakun hydroelectric dam and is situated inside the dam’s reservoir.

“The root cause for such a massive quantity (of logs) to accumulate cannot be natural.

"Judging from the quantity of the debris, it can’t be from the subsistence farming normally done by villagers in Sarawak, but instead from commercial land clearing and logging activities by corporations,” said Save Rivers, an NGO campaigning against the destructive effects of dams in Sarawak.

According to The Borneo Post, log debris has been accumulating along the river since 2011 and is most congested at Long Jawie in Belaga, more than 200km inland from Bintulu.

Local authorities and corporations are aware of the logjam but either “do not have the means to totally remove the debris” or say the debris is too far away for them to act, the daily reported.

The logjam has blocked river ways, making river trips a dangerous activity.

This has endangered the lives of locals who rely on the river for transport, the daily reported.

Save Rivers accused the Forest Department Sarawak of being unwilling to acknowledge commercial logging activities as the root cause of logjams in Sarawak.

It also accused state authorities of negligence, claiming little had been done about pollution in Sarawak rivers.

“One very good example is the Batang Baleh river where debris from barges, tugboats and express boats are scattered along the river banks,” said Peter Kallang, Save Rivers chairperson.
In 2015, Borneo Post reported another logjam in rivers leading to the Bakun hydroelectric dam, with logging activities around the dam cited as the root cause.
In 2010 a 48km-long logjam occurred along Rajang River, Malaysia’s longest river.

It was also caused by extensive legal and illegal logging, according to Sarawak Report.
Belaga assemblyperson and Assistant Minister for River Transport Liwan Lagang, however, believes corporations like Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Energy Berhad should be responsible in clearing the log am as state authorities lack the resources to do so, The Borneo Post reported.

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