Bayan Baharu residents fear wage loss due to river erosion

Sungai Ijok of Perak is elevated 195 meters above sea level and its surrounding area has a low density of 69 people per km2.

Sungai Ijok runs through villages like Bayan Baru formerly known as Bayan Kerbau before a change made by the late Sultan Yussuf.

The people living here consist of low income earners who are mostly Malays. The basic source of income of the people living here proceeds from small palm oil plantations and the sale of seasonal local fruits.

Ali Radzi, 67, living in Bayan Baharu said that the erosion along the river bank has caused chunks of soil together with trees rooted on them to collapse and slide into the river.

These continuous disasters are causing the people to lose potential income from the planting of fruit and palm oil trees.

Also two metal frame structures holding the wooden bridges alongside the river are now left abandoned as they cannot be used for the fear of safety reasons.

The soil under the edges of these bridges have eroded up to the point that the pillar underneath is exposed and is seen to have flimsy support from below.

According to Ali, the bridges was built not very long ago. He further said that the impact of the present erosion has caused the bridge to lose foothold.

The structure of the bridges still stands but the present erosion of the soil beneath has made it unsafe and could collapse if overused.

As a result, it has caused communication break down due to cut-off of transportation across the Ijok river.

In turn this is causing lost of potential income from the sale of produce. Longer routes are the only alternative now, which will cost extra time and money.

The bridges affected are the ones to FELDA Ijok and the other is to Kampung Bagan Baharu.

These bridges have been important as a tranpsortation path for about three to four villages in the surrounding area.

Currently, the poor facility is affecting about 300 to 400 villagers who use these bridges daily as route to reach destination for various businesses.

The bridge to FELDA, Ijok is the main stream of road connection between Bagan Baharu to Kubu Gajah.

Adun Kubu Gajah Ahmad Zainuddin Omar had visited the river bank and bridges sites in the month of July, 2012 accompanied by the Drainage and Irrigation department (DID) district officer Sukardi Hussein Shah.

The DID district senior Engineer Mokhtar Hasran was then informed of the situation by the DIS district officer.

Ahmad Zainuddin Omar had requested for a full report on the landslide of the river banks affecting the two bridges and several other river banks sites.

The villagers say that the velocity of the river flow is rather low and cannot be the cause of the said erosion and landslide of the river banks.

Presently, people do fish and swim in the river.

Landslide of the river bank soil had become more disastrous ever since the sand dredging started at the Ijok River Felda Junction  which presently occupies large land space compared to before.

According to Hussein Nayan, 52, the suction machinery has caused the river bank to curved in about 200m from the original site now into interior.

He claims that he had been told by the present sand dredging operator that interior red marking approved by DID is much further in (100 meters) from the present river bank.

The villagers are concerned that if this river bank landslides were to continue, their property like houses and smallholders plantations will be lost and this will contribute to the lose of their source of income.

The villagers spoken to, have no knowledge of the status of the report requested by the State Assemblymen. However, they hope that the issue is resolved immediately in the best interest of the affected people.

The DID (JPS) is urged to repair the Ijok river bank nearing Limau River (Sungai Limau) which has caused the bridge to be unsafe.

As a result, many people from Kampung Limau are disconnected dari village dan plantation of a radius of about 1000 acres.

The people also urge the authorities to look into the present sand dredging activites, if it was the cause of the landslides alongside of the river banks.

The residents fear that things would worsen even more during the rainy season in the months of October to December.