KUCHING, Oct 12 — The massive logjam in the Rajang River has caused an estimated loss of RM2.7 million after bridges and jetties were awash with debris, beginning from the Malataheli timber camp, about 75km upstream from Kapit.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said today the logjam, which began since last Thursday, destroyed two logging bridges at the upper reaches of the Baleh tributary, as well as five clinic and longhouse jetties at Entawau, SK Sempilik and Nanga Entelawan.
He said the state government had yet to ascertain the loss to the ecological system as the relevant authorities, including Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board and Sarawak River Board, were still conducting preliminary investigation.
Dr Chan, who is also state disaster management committee chairman, told a press conference here that a 54-hour mammoth operation maneuvered the logjam from the source to the river mouth at Kuala Igan.
Asked if illegal logging was the main culprit, he said, firm action would be taken against illegal loggers who did not adhere to the state’s regulations.
The deputy chief minister refuted reports that the logjam was due to over-logging and poor management of logged areas as there was proper monitoring of sustainable forest practices as recognised by the International Tropical Timber Organisation.
Meanwhile, he said that during the clean-up operation, hazard lights would be put up on half-submerged logs and boats to warn the shipping community of dangerous debris along the Rajang, the country’s longest river.
In getting to the real cause behind the logjam, Dr Chan said, it happened following a heavy downpour at the site where waste logs had accumulated, causing landslides and a river bank to collapse.
He said it was compounded by the strong La Nina phenomenon, which saw Sarawak experiencing above-normal rainfall of 40-60 per cent more than the mean rainfall during the current north-east monsoon.
The logjam resulted in the disruption of service for cargo vessels and express passenger boats, which are a vital mode of transportation for people living in Kapit, about 125km or three hours by river to Sibu. — Bernama