Hundreds of villagers who were 'relocated' following the construction of a dam in 1991 are now being told that the land they have been farming all these years is a forest reserve.
PENAMPANG: The failure to satisfactorily resettle villagers who were affected by the construction of the Babagon dam in Moyog, near here, way back in the early 90s has returned to haunt the state Barisan Nasional government.
The affected villagers are now demanding the the Musa Aman-led government immediately gazette the 50-acre resettlement land as native reserve to better secure their future.
The villagers made the demand during a ‘Sodop Poimbohutan’ or fellowship gathering organised by Sabah DAP over the weekend which gave them the opportunity to vent their frustrations over their transitory status.
They claimed that the state government had relocated them without gazetting the allocated 50 acres of land as native reserve and they are now being told that they have encroached into the Crocker Range that is under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks.
Government authorities have since threatened them with eviction and legal action for allegedly clearing ‘state land’ to grow crops to feed their families and also as a livelihood as most are jobless.
But the villagers, fearing that they will be made homeless, are now demanding the state government to gazette the 50-acre settlement as a native reserve without further delay.
Sabah DAP secretary Dr Edwin Bosi, who attended the gathering urged the BN government to fulfil its promise to provide land to the villagers who were uprooted due to the construction of the dam.
He regretted that the state government had rejected the request from the affected villagers for 200 acres of farming land.
He said the government should understand that the Tampasak villagers from Babagon, Moyog which is 10km from Donggongon made a huge sacrifice by agreeing to be re-settled to make way for the Moyog dam in the early 90s.
“They decided to move thinking that the promises made by the government would be honoured. But even the 50 acres provided was never gazetted as a village settlement area,” he said.
The construction of the RM200 million dam covering an area of 400 acres in 1991 was met by strong protests from the 300 villagers from about 150 homes at Kg Babagon and Tampasak, who said the dam would destroy their land and the wildlife on which they were dependent.
Bosi also advised the villagers that should the Pakatan Rakyat form the new government after the 13th general election, it would respect the native people’s native customary right (NCR) for land.
“I see no problem in gazetting the settlement as requested by the villagers,” he said.