Masing: Stop logging in upper reaches of Batang Baleh river or deadly logjams will recur

SIBU: The government has been urged to stop renewing timber licences for companies to operate at the upper reaches of the Batang Baleh river after another logjam on Saturday (Aug 21).

The logjam started in the upper reaches of Batang Baleh and passed by Kapit between 8.30pm and 11pm.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing claimed on Sunday (Aug 22) that the logjam was caused by timber concessionaires who operate in the headwaters of Batang Baleh with devastating environmental impact.

Masing stressed that this logjam, of the same magnitude as the one in 2010, might pose a possible deadlier consequence because the smooth flow of the river is now blocked by the construction of the Baleh hydroelectric power (HEP) dam.

"In order to stop this logjam from reoccurring, please do not renew timber licences to operate at the upper reaches of Batang Baleh," he said.

Masing said it is also common knowledge among HEP operators that logging activities at the watershed areas will cause siltation and reduce the lifespan of a dam.

"The first serious logjam in the headwaters of Batang Baleh was in 2010. The jam stretched all the way from Kapit to Sibu and resulted in a riverine traffic jam. Dead fish and wildlife including crocodiles were found floating in the river then," he said.

Masing added that at the time, the Iban residing along the Baleh river made a special offering to pacify the gods in Ulu Baleh.

"I was involved and so were the YBs of Kapit division. We thought the gods were pacified by our peace offering, But not for long as 10 years later it has happened again.

"Yet the ones who caused the logjam are human beings," he added.

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