Log jams in Balui: Who is responsible?

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A log jam at the upper reaches of the Balui River

MIRI – Yet another log jam is happening in Sarawak, proving the laissez-faire attitude of those responsible, reports Save Rivers.

The rivers in Sarawak have generally been left neglected and ruined by the various extractive and mega industries since the 1980s.

As reported in the Borneo Post (1 March 17), the latest log jam is 30km long. It is at the Balui River, between 120km and 150km away from the Bakun Dam and it is inside the dam’s reservoir.

No matter what triggered the wood to float down, the root cause for such a massive quantity to accumulate and be washed down to the river cannot be natural. The reckless human exploitations of timber and the land use cannot be ignored. Judging from the quantity of the debris, it can’t be from the subsistence farming normally done by villagers in Sarawak, but from hectares of commercial clearings and logging by corporations.

Just as quoted in the report for this current log jam, the one in 2013 was also blamed on intensive logging. But the claim was refuted by the then Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) CEO and managing director. The SFC CEO claimed that the kilometres of driftwood that clogged the river was so glaring because it was moving at a snail’s pace. He reiterated that it would not be right to blame logging activities.

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Instead of getting their house in order to ensure that there is no repeat of the log jam, a “miring” ceremony (a rituals to appease the gods) was officially held.

Whatever the cause of the tragic incidents, the relevant authorities should ensure that they will not ever happen again. Negligence and irresponsibility for rivers are so glaringly noticeable from the polluted rivers in Sarawak.

As Peter Kallang, the chairman of Save Rivers, commented, “One very good example of dirty rivers is the Batang Baleh, where wreckage of barges, tugboats and express boats littered the river. At Baleh river, wooden loading jetties and rejected logs scattered along the banks.

“What about getting those offenders to clean their mess? Where are the enforcement authorities?”

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