Fishermen fear losing livelihood


Khoo Salma (left) explaining an issue to Nazri (dark blue shirt) and his members after the press conference at Pen Mutiara in Batu Maung, Penang.

FISHERMEN relocated during the construction of the Butterworth Outer Ring on the Penang mainland, want the state government to listen to their grouses on loss of income and the ecosystem seriously.

Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Nazri Ahmad claimed that 95 fishermen on the mainland have yet to receive their full compensation from the state Economic Planning Unit since 2009 after they were relocated.

He said they would oppose any plans for reclamation of the coastline in Bagan Ajam.

“During construction of the BORR, the fishermen along the coast in Butterworth were relocated to Bagan Ajam and promised compensation of RM12,500 each.

“They were paid RM6,000 in 2003 and RM2,500 in 2009, but till today there are no further compensation paid.

“We have not been able to get proper answers from the state authorities, ” he claimed at a recent press conference in Batu Maung.

Nazri also claimed that the area supposedly given to the fishermen in Bagan Ajam has also been “taken over” by restaurant operators.

“Some of the plots provided for fishermen are now occupied by restaurants.

“The restaurant owners are not fishermen, and the three jetties in the area are no longer there.

“The fishermen need a permanent spot to place their boats and accessories to derive income from the sea, ” he said.

Nazri said the fishermen want the state to halt the upcoming reclamation from Butterworth to Bagan Ajam to ease the fishermen’s burden.

“We understand that the proposed reclamation of 8km-long and 854m-wide would take place soon.

“It will jeopardise the ecosystem where fishes breed and fishermen go out to get their catch, especially Indian mackerels (kembong).

“We urge the state to halt all reclamation in Penang and find a solution to restore the sea’s ecosystem and protect the livelihood of the fishermen.

“We are worried that the continuous drop in fish catch will result in an increase in prices nationwide, ” he said.

In September last year, the state government signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Rayston Consortium Sdn Bhd (RCSB).

The agreement amended several clauses of the Land Reclamation and Resettlement Agreement that was already signed between the state government and RCSB in June 1999.

The new agreement stipulates that RCSB will give 90.31ha to the state after it was given the right to reclaim 650ha.

On June 16,1999, RCSB was given the right to relocate about 1,000 squatters along the path of the BORR.

RCSB was also part of the consortium that built the BORR, along with Etika Gemilang (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd.

Part of the BORR, too, is built on reclaimed land.

Also present were Seberang Prai Fishermen Association chairman Mahadi Md Rodzi and Penang Forum steering committee member Khoo Salma Nasution.

According to a recent Bernama report, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that the state government would look into the fishermen’s claims to determine if their demands have any basis.


   

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