TAWAU: The Sabah Forestry Department has failed to discharge its duties in monitoring logs being transported out of the logging concessions in the Kalabakan-Sapulut area, claimed DAP Sabah.
Foong Hin Chan, its Secretary cum Sri Tanjung Assemblyman claimed overloaded logging trucks continue to be seen coming out from the area concerned and entering the main road, oblivious to other road users.
Chan said this was based on the residents’ accounts as they have been witnessing the overloaded logging trucks plying the Kalabakan-Sapulut road, especially at night.
He said the Forestry Department should take the lead in monitoring the logging trucks while waiting for the proposed Weighing Bridge to be completed.
“This issue of overloaded logging trucks has been raised a few times previously but still there is no action from the relevant authorities to resolve it,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Overloaded logging trucks have been identified as the main culprit for the damages to the major trunk road which connects the west and east coast from the southern route, costing millions of ringgit to maintain the Keningau-Sapulut road.
According to Chan, the only answer that had come out from previous enquiry on the matter was that the Road Transport Department would be building a Weighing Bridge or Rest Complex to monitor usage of the highway.
It was also announced that the facility would be built in an area of about two hectares not far from the Maliau Basin, but despite these assurances, the completion date is still unknown.
Kalabakan-Sapulut road is a logging road that passes through forest reserves in the late 1970s to early 1980s.
Until today, Chan said the road continued to be used largely by logging concessionaires along the highway from the Keningau-Sapulut region.
Therefore, there is no way to stop the logging trucks from using the road, he said, adding however the Forestry Department should not wash their hands off the issue.
“The logging vehicles and equipment are regulated by Forestry laws, and this includes ensuring the logs on the logging trucks are not stacked exceeding the cabin head, and that at least three pieces of wire ropes are used to secure the logs, the lorry lights are left blinking during the journey, as well as usage of canvas covers.”
Chan said it was feasible for Forestry officers to do the monitoring job on site to ensure that all the logging trucks are not overloaded, before entering the main road.
He said that assessment or monitoring could be done at visual observation, such as the length should not exceed two metres of the truck body and there should not be more than 52 cubic metres of logs per truck.
The Forestry Department could slap fines of up to RM350,000 against those caught overloading.
“This is nothing new as the Forestry Deparment has this administrative punitive power since seven years ago,” he said.
“The Forestry Department has the moral obligation to monitor timber companies operating at the Kalabakan-Sapulut region, which at an export value of RM70 million from Kalabakan Log Pond annually remains as one of the biggest timber revenue generating zone for Sabah,” he added.
“The transport companies are more than happy to accept the monitoring by Forestry Department as more trips are necessary for them to conduct in order to carry those logs.
“I don’t see any reason the transport companies don’t want to comply with the rule.”