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Farmers face bleak future

 | April 14, 2012

Farmers in Sebangan have plunged deeper into poverty as sea water constantly floods their land, leaving it infertile.

KUCHING: Several millions of ringgit worth of padi, cocoa, coconut, pepper, oil palm and fruit orchards in Sebangan area have been destroyed by overflowing sea water after broken levees along the coastline went unrepaired.

Some 20,000 acres of land owned by farmers from Kampung Bajong Ulu, Kampung Bajong Ili, Kampung Sungai Arus Melayu, Kampung Sungai Arus Iban, Kampung Lumut and Kampung China Sebangan have been destroyed.

State PKR elections committee director Abang Zulkifli Engkeh said Sebangan, which is in the Simunjan district, about 100 km from here, had suffered immensely from the cosntant tidal overflow.

“We are gravely concerned and sympathise with the affected people. Their source of livelihood –padi, cocoa, coconut, pepper, palm oil and fruit trees – has been destroyed by salt water caused by the continuous tidal floods.

“The salt and silt have rendered the land infertile and useless for farming,” he said, adding that the people were plunging into deep poverty in the area.

Zulkifli said the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) had built the leeves 20 years ago but since then hardly any maintenance had been carried out.

Citing examples, he said the levee along the coastline near Kampung Sungai Arus Melayu broke early last year. But in spite of many written requests and pleas, no action was taken.

Earlier in 2005, a similar leeve broke near Kampung Bajong Ulu. That was repaired late last year but the levee broke again a few weeks after the repair.

“Understandably, the people are much stressed as their only source of livelihood is destroyed. They are not able to simply move to another area since most of them only have land in the affected area.

“Therefore, we request that the DID repair the broken levees immediately,” Zulkifli said.

He also criticised the elected representatives in the area for ignoring the plight of the farmers, especially the Iban in the area.

The Sebuyau seat is part of Batang Lupar parliamentary constituency and its representative is Julaihi Narawi of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu. Rohani Abdul Karim is the MP for Batang Lupar.

Said Zulkifli, who is a potential PKR candidate for Batang Lupar: “I am made to understand that each family in Kampung Sungai Arus Melayu had been given RM1,000 as compensation. However, other residents [Ibans] in the affected area have not been given compensation. I don’t know why. This is too bad.”


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