MIRI: Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok reiterated that the Baram hydroelectric dam project is a gift from God for the minority Orang Ulu.
“I am not ashamed to say that the mega project is a gift from God because as a result of the project the government will build a 60-km road from Long Lama to the dam site at Long Keseh, benefitting about 12,000 Kayans from nine longhouses along the river,” he said.
He said he had proposed to have a road to link all the longhouses along Baram River before the dam was even conceptualised, more as a wish for a better life for the people.
The road came into the picture when the government proposed the Baram dam, he added.
“What I am saying is that if there is no Baram dam, there won’t be any road being built. It does not make any economic sense just building a road like that. The proposed dam justifies the building of the RM500-million road,” explained Lihan.
Urging his critics to look at the bigger picture, he said the stretch of road from Long Lama made up Package B of the overall road project under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. He said the package cost the government a massive RM500 million.
Package A is the stretch of road from Beluru to Sungai Tinjar encompassing Lapok road.
The upgrading of 35.73-km Lapok road at a cost of about RM101 million commenced three days ago and is expected to be completed in three years, Lihan revealed.
“Our people who are already poor have had to buy 4WD vehicles to travel through this road, having to bear high maintenance cost due to wear and tear their vehicles were subject to. But this will be behind us three years from now,” said Lihan.
Lihan said tender for Package B of the SCORE project would close on Sept 24 and both packages would start this year.
The assemblyman urged Baram folk not to politicise the Baram dam project.
“I urge for understanding and acceptance of this mega project. The expected life-span of a dam is around 500 years. The dam will generate cheap energy for the community. Let us play a part in nation-building by accepting this project.
“Of course there are certain groups instigating the people to reject this project. In life, one has to accept challenges. If the Orang Ulu reject this project, there won’t be an opportunity like this for a very, very long time, maybe not during our lifetime on earth,” said Lihan.
Source: Borneo Post