BINTULU: Seventy-five people from two longhouses namely Rumah Penghulu Chabi and Rumah Kundai received ex-gratia payments totalling RM3,810,338.56 from the state government Thursday.
The two longhouses were among seven longhouses along the 50km Sungai Pelugau Bridge- Bintulu Airport stretch (from Sungai Arip to Bintulu Airport junction) affected by the development and upgrading of the proposed Pan Borneo Highway.
The cheques were presented by Land and Survey Bintulu Division superintendent Kiu Chiong Chong at the department’s office in Wisma Bintulu yesterday. Also present was Sarawak Land and Survey senior valuer officer Mohamad Muazziz Othman.
According to Kiu, the department is still processing the cheques for recipients from the other five affected longhouses.
“We hope the recipients will be patient as we need to go through several procedures before we can give out the cheques,” he said.
Kiu pointed out that the Pan Borneo Highway, once completed, would be able to improve the socio-economic standards of local residents, especially those who were directly affected by the highway’s construction.
“Most importantly, this mega project will not only benefit us but also our future generations. It will offer more convenience to road users,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Muazziz in his briefing to the recipients, said the ex-gratia sum was not the same as compensation because the payment rate was only at 80 per cent of the assessed value.
This ex-gratia payment, he said, showed the government’s concern over the wellbeing of those affected although they were not entitled for compensation under the Land Ordinance.
He also reminded those who had received their payment to start moving out of their homes once the notice to vacate the site had been issued by the Land and Survey Department.
“The faster you vacate the site the better because the construction works can be carried out immediately.
“You will be given about one week to vacate your homes. Land and Survey will come out with a notice and if you need more time, you are requested to write an application letter to Bintulu Land and Survey superintendent.
“The superintendent of the department will visit the site first to do his assessment on your preparation before he can give a time extension for you to pack up and move out,” he explained.
However, he believed that the moving out process would go smoothly because all of the affected individuals had been informed earlier on the requirement to pack up and move once they received an ex-gratia payment from the government.
“I hope all affected individuals will give their full cooperation to the agencies involved in the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway.
“If possible, we do not want to take any enforcement against any of you unless we are forced to demolish the structure because we want to do it peacefully to avoid any misunderstanding,” Mohamad Muazziz said.
Development and upgrading works involving the Pan Borneo Highway kicked off with a project encompassing a 43km stretch along Jalan Bintulu-Miri, from Jalan Nyabau to the Bakun junction.
Works commenced at the end of April last year.
In addition to upgrading the current two-lane single-carriageway of R5 JKR standard, development works will include four bridges, over 300 major and minor culverts, bus sheds, P-turns, designated junctions as well as pedestrian bridges.