Rajang River in full flow again after debris drifts to sea

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands, Water resource |

-The Star-

SIBU: The Rajang River has become navigable again after a massive logjam caused by widespread landslides upriver cleared, bringing relief to operators of passenger and cargo vessels.

The long stretch of logs and wooden debris floating from Balleh in the Kapit Division over the past two days has drifted to sea.

Nevertheless, officers from the Natural Resources and Environment Board and the Sarawak Rivers Board are closely monitoring the situation, said state Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

“They are also surveying the damage caused to wharves, jetties and other infrastructure and will help to remove the debris,” he told reporters yesterday after presenting a RM10,000 government grant for the construction of the new RM1.25mil St John’s Anglican Church here.

Wong reiterated that the debris was not from the Bakun Dam area in Belaga but Balleh in Kapit.

“The area, with its huge catchment, has experienced very heavy rainfall in the past few days, causing widespread landslide, erosion and flooding.

“The debris which was swept away could have accumulated there over the past 40 or more years,” he said.

Passenger and cargo boats are able to travel safely and keep to their schedules now.

Over the past two days, it had been nightmarish for boat operators as they had to delay or postpone trips or stop halfway because of the huge quantities of logs and debris floating downriver.

Ling Kok Chung, 65, who runs the Bahagia Express boat service, said no less than 25 express boats were plying the Rajang River, including 16 daily from here to Kapit and back.

In Miri, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan dismissed the notion that the logjam signalled the beginning of an environmental disaster.

“It is not a natural disaster. I will not comment until I get the full report,” he said.

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