Amidst reports of indigenous people being displaced from their ancestral land for the controversial Bakun Dam project in Sarawak, a similar story is brewing in Sabah as Ulu Papar natives are facing possible relocation due to the proposed Kaiduan dam project.
Citizen Journalist, Raymond Sipanis who hails from Kampung Buayan investigates on how much the construction of the dam will affect their way of life and the pristine jungle, which their ancestor has protected all this years.
In February 2008, the government of Sabah has granted approval carry out a feasibility study and submit technical proposals for the implementation of the Kaiduan Dam Project, situated at Ulu Papar in Sabah, amidst the Crocker Range.
Located near the northwestern coastal lines of Sabah, Ulu Papar consists of nine villages and is home to some 1,000 Dusun people.
But the lives of the Dusun, which depend on the natural cycles of their land, might be changed forever with the impending construction of the RM2.8 billion dam.
The construction of the dam, a project initiated by the Sabah state government in early 2008, would mean the relocation of these Dusun people.
“We are already cash-strapped here. Over the years, we have been feeding ourselves using our knowledge and strength. Without the natural resources here, we will struggle badly when we are relocated,” says Mositol Sodingon, a resident from Kampung Buayan.
“The river is our fish market, the forest is where we get our vegetables and meat from, and we grow rice for ourselves,” he explains.
The villagers’ lives are completely surrounded by nature, as they are located some 30km away from the nearest town, Donggongan.
Some villagers need to walk for seven to eight hours to reach the nearest main road.
There were many evidence which p0ints out that the lives of the natives would not be the same with their impending relocation. Previously the residents of Babagon Laut whom has been resettled at Kampung Tampasak are still not adapting to their present conditions.
The “displaced” indigenous people from Babagon, are facing social and economic problems. Their livelihoods has been jeopardised because they could no longer tap the rubber trees which by then has been submerged under water.
The similar fate will likely be faced by the more than 1000 Dusun natives whom set to be relocated with the flooding of the area.
Once built, the Kaiduan Dam will flood the 12 kilometre square area covering Kampung Babagon Laut, Tiku, Timpayasah and Buayan and logged forests.
The pristine Crocker Range National Park has been said would not in any way affected by the dam, but its remained to seen.
The Kaiduan dam, according to state government officials, will secure water supply for Kota Kinabalu and its surrounding vicinity until 2050.