The community in the Bario highlands in the far corner of Sarawak is in a real dilemma as there is an ongoing hot debate whether roads should be built to connect the Bario highlands to the outside world.
For ages, the community of Bario are deprive of modern amenities, higher prices of fuel, higher price of fertilizers, food and other daily necessities and construction materials as the supply of those item are like gold. Items are flown in by flight and that make the items very expensive. The alternative transportation out of Bario is via timber tracks built by those giant timber companies and over the years, those tracks have joined and extended further to reach Bario.
To the settlers of Bario, the timber tracks are their highway. Dirt highway. Now they want the timber company Samling to built a proper roads linking Miri to Bario so that the usual timber track journey of 13 hours can be reduced as well as to make it safer. Samling might just agreed to this as they can extract timbers along the way (or making the road construction as an excuse to cut down timbers or cutting down trees in lieu of payment in kind).
Bario settlers are not overly concerned about the environmental impact as since the time of Ling Liong Sik (former Minister of Transport) and Samy Vellu (former Minister of Works) in addition to Alfred Jabu, tonnes of promises were made but there is still no proper roads to Bario. Yes, the government under Barisan Nasional did not keep their promises to their voters in Bario.
Environmental watchdog group Borneo Resources Institute says the 300km-long road, which will lead to Miri City, will permanently damage the environment and result in more forests being logged. There also great concerns that the road is an excuse for opening the whole of the Bario highlands for timber extraction.
On the other hand, Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining, in welcoming the construction of the road, says “it will open up the entire Bario highlands for socio-economic development for more than 5,000 highlanders”. It will facilitate easier transportation of fuel and food into the remote highland settlements.
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From The Star
Logging road in Bario stirs debate
MIRI: The construction of a logging road into the Bario highlands in northern Sarawak has stirred debate over its benefits.
Environmental watchdog group Borneo Resources Institute says the 300km-long road, which will lead to Miri City, will permanently damage the environment and result in more forests being logged.
“This will spell the end of the pristine nature of Bario. We were caught off-guard by news that the road has already been built all the way to the top of the Bario highlands.
“The Bario highlands is a fragile and ecologically-important region,” says institute coordinator for Sarawak, Raymond Abin.
He said he learnt that the road was constructed by a timber company and asked whether this meant that the firm had been given the right to harvest the timber.
“We are worried that the road is an excuse for opening the whole of the Bario highlands for timber extraction,” he told The Star.
Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining, in welcoming the construction of the road, says “it will open up the entire Bario highlands for socio-economic development for more than 5,000 highlanders”.
“The road will be an important link for the people of the highlands to the outside world. It will open up accessibility to settlements which were once only linked by flights.
“It will facilitate easier transportation of fuel and food into the remote highland settlements,” he said, adding that the journey from Miri to Bario via the logging road would take at least 13 hours.
The Bario highlands is similar in geography to Genting High-lands. Populated by the Lun Ba-wang and Kelabit minority ethnic groups, Bario is well-known for its fragrant rice and tourism spots.
Balang said the road was being built by Samling Corporation.
“It is the people’s wish to see the road eventually being upgraded. I hope the government can ‘adopt’ the road and improve on it,” he said.
To a question, Balang said the road did not infringe into any national park or forest reserve.
Abin said his institute wanted the state government to disclose if logging concessions had been given out in the Bario highlands and if any environmental impact assessment had been carried out before the construction of the road.
From The Star
‘Bario communities wanted the logging road’
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: The Sarawak government had to allow a logging road built all the way into the remote Bario highlands to ensure villagers had access to goods and fuel at lower prices and to prevent future shortages of necessities.
Ba'Kelalan state assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining said on Thursday that the road was constructed after the highland communities had discussed the matter. "The people of Bario discussed this issue at length. They decided that the logging road had to be built. This logging road built by Samling Corporation has connected Bario all the way to Miri. "It will facilitate smoother transport of large amount of food, goods and fuel from Miri to Bario. This will help to ensure enough supply of these neccessities in the highlands. "An ample supply of these goods will help to bring down the price of these commodities in the highlands.
“At present, suppliers have to pay huge overhead costs just to transport these items to Bario by flights and by land from other smaller towns. "That is why the prices of fuel, food and other daily necessities and construction materials in Bario are five times more expensive than in urban areas of Sarawak.
"This logging road will eventually help to reduce the prices and ensure constant stable supply at all times," he told The Star.
Balang was responding to the concerns expressed by environmental-watchdog group Borneo Resources Institute concerning the 300km-long logging road that had been built right to the summit of the 1,600 metres high mountain.
Institute coordinator for Sarawak, Raymond Abin, had said the construction of this road might result in more highland forests being logged.
The clearing of the Bario forests would irreparably damage the ecosystem and alter the weather pattern, Abin had said. The institute had also questioned why the construction of the Miri-Bario logging road had not been made public before building began and why an environmental-impact assessment study was not done beforehand. Balang responded on Wednesday that as far as he knew, the logging road built by Samling Corporation did not to be gazetted publicly.
"There is no need for any public announcement of the project because it is built by a private company. It is Samling's right to construct the road following the request from the people of Bario," he said.
Asked if the construction of the logging road into the highlands required an EIA, Balang said that he was not sure about this matter. On concerns that the interior's ecology and weather system would be damaged permanently, he said his main concern now was to help alleviate the hardship suffered by his constituents as much as possible.
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