Telang Usan rep worried about attempts by activists to derail RM6bil gas pipeline project

MIRI: A politician is concerned that environmental activists are trying to derail the construction of the RM6bil interstate gas pipeline between Kimanis in Sabah and Bintulu in Sarawak.

Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau yesterday said since the 600km pipeline carried out by Petronas was into its final stage of implementation, there would be a surge in attempts to stop it.

He suspected that certain environmental activist groups were trying to instigate the locals.

Dennis told The Star that he believed these activists were also spreading false information.

“Today, I read a news article in a local newspaper that certain groups of Penans in Long Meraan had staged yet another blockade to stop the Petronas contractor from continuing the construction along the gas pipe route.

“I have checked with the community leaders in Long Meraan. There are no such protests. I suspect a certain environmental NGO is trying to instigate the Penans in Long Meraan to rise up against the project,” he said.

“The project is now in its final stage of construction, with the gas pipeline already being constructed in many locations. The final stage of construction will be near Long Seridan (along the mountainous Limbang divisional border with Sabah).”

“Since the project is in its final stage, which is also a critical phase, I suspect that environmentalists are getting desperate and will make more aggressive attempts to derail the project,” Dennis said.

He was asked whether it was true that the project had been hampered by a blockade at Long Meraan in the upper Baram basin.

The massive transboundary pipeline would be used to channel gas from Kimanis in Sabah to Bintulu for processing and export.

The project started more than three years ago. It involves the laying of big underground pipelines through valleys, mountains and jungles from Kimanis to Bintulu.

On the groups of natives in Baram who were unhappy that construction of the underground pipelines had intruded into their native customary land, Dennis stressed that Petronas had settled the matter with those affected amicably.

“Yes, there were blockades and protests before by villagers in Long Kevok, whose land were affected by the project.

“However, Petronas had taken steps to solve these disputes and had also paid compensation to the affected villagers accordingly.

“Despite these, there are NGOs still trying to instigate more natives to protest and set up blockades to disrupt the project,” he claimed.

Ngau said he was surprised to read that the Long Meraan Penans had joined in the protests.

“I know these Penans in Long Meraan. They are reasonable people. They would have informed me of their unhappiness if any.

“I keep in touch with their headman all the time because I am trying to get a bridge project for them,” he said.

“So far, they had never told me that they are unhappy with the Petronas pipeline project.”

Dennis said he would be making another visit to Ulu Tutoh in Baram this week.

He added that he would look into the progress of the pipeline project and speak to the villagers there.

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