TEBEDU: Seven heavy machinery, four lorries and five logging workers quarters were allegedly torched by residents of 10 villages here to protest against logging activities.
The villagers claimed the loggers had encroached into their land and the logging activities damaged their crops.
Several days earlier the protesters damaged a wooden bridge to stop logging trucks from coming into the land.
About 500 people were seen around the area at about 10am. The police were there to enforce law and order, but could not stop civilians from taking action as they were outnumbered.
It took the villagers about an hour to reach the timber camp as they had to walk up a hill.
Upon noticing the villagers, the camp workers who were mostly foreigners ran helter-skelter from the area.
A spokesman for the villages, who did not want to be identified, said the villagers had to act as the relevant authorities had failed to stop the logging activities.
“They have tested our patience and we just cannot take it anymore. We have lodged several reports and complaints to the authorities but the logging activities still continued. We are fed-up,” he said.
“Our rights have been encroached, our crops destroyed. We are 100 per cent not supporting the logging activities,” he said when met at the scene.
He said they had given the workers sufficient warning to stop their activities but they did not.
“That is why we take action today and torch their machinery and camp,” he said.
“However our effort to catch the workers, believed to be Indonesians or Filipinos failed because they fled,” he said.
The spokesman related that an Indonesian woman, said to be wife of one of the workers, was smart enough to run away with her baby a few days ago.
Serian police chief ASP Awangku Ahmaddin Awang Wang when met said he and his men could not stop the villagers as the situation was difficult and tense. The villagers were emotional.
“When we arrived the machinery and the workers’ quarters were already set on fire. As the situation was so tense, we decided to monitor the situation only,” he said.
He urged the villagers to settle their dispute with the company in the court room.