James Masing

KAPIT: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing was pleased to know that the Baleh Dam would be completed by 2026.

Masing, who is also Infrastructure Development Minister and Baleh assemblyman, accompanied Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on a visit to the Baleh hydroelectric project to see the progress on Tuesday.

“In the meeting, I was quite surprised that there is a problem with a timber company (regarding a stretch of the logging road).

“They must understand that this is a public project, and not a private project. Therefore, they must not make too many demands. They must prioritise this project so that the Baleh Dam construction does not encounter delays.”

He added, “The problem with the native population, they (Sarawak Energy Bhd — SEB) must settle it first because this is their area. The locals have given them the opportunity to construct the dam. Don’t ignore their grouses.

An artist’s impression of the Baleh Dam.

“If they complain, settle it fast. This project, I was told the compensation has been decided and payment would be made soon. I have discussed with the chief minister and Public Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom on the compensation.”

He gave an analogy, “You use the place, people allow you to work. Therefore you must pay them, the locals who own the land. It is like when you buy bread from the bakery. Before you eat it, you have to pay, right?

“The rate of compensation (land and crop) has been decided by the government based on the standard rate that all must comply with.”

Masing was pleased that the local population was helpful with regard to the mega project. “They assisted to make sure that the Baleh Dam is constructed. “Now, when they support, SEB must reciprocate. It is important that the project does not only benefit the government but also the local community.”

On the proposed Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ), he said Abang Johari, Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail and State Secretary Datuk Jaul Samion had been briefed. The CIQ has been proposed to be set up in Tapah Megah, close to the border.