Mega project reels in fear

GEORGE TOWN: Fishermen in and around Balik Pulau are fearful that their livelihood may be affected by the proposed RM75 billion mega project consisting of industrial, commercial and residential development.

They said a one-off compensation, if they were offered any, would not work in their favour and would not substantiate or compensate their income in the long run.

Abd Rahman Hassan, 53, said he was distressed on learning the project might affect his daily income.

"I have three children aged between 10 years and eight months, and my average daily income of RM40 is what is helping my children through school," he said.

"Development is welcomed but it depends if it will bring more good than bad."

Abd Rahman cited a prawn-rearing project in Sungai Udang, Balik Pulau, which did not take off properly, causing fishermen to be displaced and incur losses.

He said some were not even compensated. According to him, the 300 fishermen in Balik Pulau were from five fishing villages -- Pantai Acheh, Kuala Sungai Pinang, Jalan Baru, Sungai Burong and Pulau Betong -- and all fish at the sites where the mega projects have been proposed.

His friends, Romai Noor Non and Ismail Omar, both 60s, also said they were for development if it benefitted the folk there.

"But from what we read in The Malay Mail, the project is not feasible considering the geological and uncertain weather here," Ismail said.

"If it's true the projects would be built on stilts, then I fear for whoever is involved as during the monsoon season from May to August, there will strong winds and rough currents that bring high waves which I hope the developer takes into account."

Another fisherman, Ishak Budin, hoped the project would not change the eco-system and surroundings of the area.

"My greatest fear is that the project might not only take away our livelihood but also cause damage and pollution and will forever change the facade of this fishing village," he said.

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