LONG KEVOK (Ulu Baram): Jungle-clearing and road construction work for the RM3bil transboundary Petronas pipeline project between Sarawak and Sabah have begun.
The clearing of jungles and construction of feeder roads through mountain ranges and deep valleys where 600km of underground pipes will eventually lie have reached the advanced stages in the ulu Baram district in northern Sarawak.
A drive from Miri to Long Bedian to Long Kevok, a distance of 350km, showed that the route — that will run from Kimanis in Sabah to Bintulu in northern Sarawak — was busy with Petronas workers carrying out ground works.
State Assemblyman for Telang Usan, Lihan Jok, said Petronas had already informed the locals in the Baram region that the pipeline project would pass through territories belonging to native groups living in settlements and longhouses, including in his vast constituency.
“The pipelines will pass through areas where the Kayans, Kenyahs and also the Penans live,” he said, adding that Petronas had already negotiated with the affected natives the terms of the project and the compensation to be paid.
“Petronas needs to acquire these lands so its workers can dig into the ground deep enough to lay the huge pipes,” he said when interviewed.
The project, which is meant to tap new gas resources in Sabah and Sarawak for export, will see the pipes cutting through the districts of Lawas, Baram, Marudi, Miri, Sibuti, Niah, Suai and Bintulu.
In the Baram district, the Telang Usan constituency will be the main region affected by the pipeline project.
Lihan said some very populated areas will be affected, for example, Long Bedian, Long Kevok, Long Puak, Long Seridan, Long Atip, Long Wat, Long Bemang, Long Pauk, Long Laput and Long Beruang.
Lihan was unable to say how much compensation will be paid by Petronas and how many natives would ultimately be affected, saying land survey works and compensation negotiations was still ongoing in many places.
He said Petronas would pay according to the evaluation carried out by the state government.
“By April next year, the compensation issue should be resolved fully,” he said, adding his hope that Petronas would be fair as those in his constituency supported the project in general.
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