Veteran Fishermen Advocate For Penang Three Island Rehabilitation Project Approved For The Benefit Of Future Generations | Malaysia

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Fishing boats lined up on the coast of Gertak Sanggul in Penang, September 13, 2021. – Images by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, September 17 – There are around 700 fishermen and residents in Permatang Damar Laut who fully support the controversial three-island reclamation project off the south coast of Penang Island, according to some seasoned fishermen.

One of them is Fajinah Jaafar, 60, who has been fishing off Permatang Damar Laut for over 40 years.

The single mother has relied on fishing as her main source of income to raise her two sons for decades and is confident that the proposed reclamation project will be of benefit to fishermen and residents of the area.

“We were promised a new 27ft boat with a 75 horsepower engine and ex gratia payment enough to buy new trawls each and I hope SRS won’t lie to us,” she said in a statement. interview with Malaysian courier yesterday.

Fajinah Jaafar, 60, talks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project which was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.
Fajinah Jaafar, 60, talks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project which was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.

She said it was a lie that the recovery project, Penang South Reclamation (PSR), would cause the fishermen off this coast to lose their source of income.

“If they mean that any development on this side will result in the permanent disappearance of marine life, just look at Penang’s Second Bridge,” she said.

She said it was only during construction that fish and seafood saw a reduction in the area, but after its completion, fish and shrimp returned about one to two years later.

She hopes that the project will be approved and that work will start soon, as this means that the project’s delivery partner, SRS Consortium, will immediately provide the new boats, engines and ex gratia payment promised to the fishermen.

“I can only appeal and plead with the government and the Ministry of the Environment to approve the project soon because we need this project,” she said.

Haris Abdullah, 61, talks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project which was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.
Haris Abdullah, 61, talks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project which was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.

Another fisherman, Haris Abdullah, 61, who has also been fishing off this coast for 42 years, said that even now fishermen from other areas as far as Perak and Kedah are making their way to the coast off Permatang Damar. Laut.

“This is proof that marine life will come back after construction is complete and in fact others may even come back,” Haris said.

Fajinah said the three islands, when completed, will provide a safe haven for breeding fish and shrimp. So in the future there might be more fertile fishing grounds due to the recovered islands.

“In the short term we fishermen will get a boost as we will each have new boats, new powerful engines and new trawls that will help us fish further out to sea,” she said. .

She said her boat is now over 20 years old and often breaks down, causing her to lose her income for days and repairs can cost anywhere from a few hundred ringgits to thousands.

“Even now my engine has failed and I am waiting for at least a few hundred ringgits to be repaired and I have not been able to go out to sea to work,” she said.

Haris pointed out that all the fishermen in this area belong to the B40 group or even live below the poverty line, barely able to make a living, so getting new boats, new powerful engines and new trawls means that they are will give a better chance to earn a living from fishing.

“A lot of them can’t afford to fix their old boats, so every time they break down they suffer, but buying new boats will mean solving this major problem for them,” he said. he declares.

Another seasoned fisherman, Idris Ismail, 66, has been fishing off Teluk Kumbar for over 52 years.

“I’m old, I don’t care if they take back their own or not, but I want to support this project because it means a better future for my grandchildren and their children,” he said.

Idris Ismail, 66, speaks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project that was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.
Idris Ismail, 66, speaks to Malay Mail about the South Penang recovery project that was halted at Gertak Sanggul in Penang on September 13, 2021.

He said Penang must continue to develop and expand its manufacturing sector and that the three islands will help the state to do so.

“We need employment opportunities for our grandchildren and their children, we don’t want them to be fishermen like us, we want them to get good, stable jobs,” he said. .

The three fishermen also interviewed the head of the Sungai Batu fishermen’s unit, Zakaria Ismail, to appeal against the Ministry of Environment (DoE) approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the PSR.

“He said he had 185 fishermen backing his call, but who are they? I have 700 people that I know personally who support PSR, ”Fajinah said.

They also claimed that Zakaria had not been to sea for over a year and that he had only been a unit leader for a year.

“He’s only been fishing for nine years … compared to us, he doesn’t know anything about the sea,” she said.

Fajinah Jaafar (left), 60, and Haris Abdullah (right), 61, checking the fishing net on a boat at Gertak Sanggul in Penang, September 13, 2021.
Fajinah Jaafar (left), 60, and Haris Abdullah (right), 61, checking the fishing net on a boat at Gertak Sanggul in Penang, September 13, 2021.

All three had no qualms about challenging Zakaria in a debate about fishing and the pros and cons of the PSR project for the region’s fishing community.

“We have more experience here and we know that we need this project to become more developed and more advanced for our future generations,” they said.

Last week, Zakaria’s appeal against PSR’s EIA was upheld, rendering the approval null and void.

The Penang state government has since said it will seek judicial review of the appeal board’s decision.

The PSR has been the subject of controversy for years since it was introduced with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some fishing groups protesting against it.

In recent months, the project has become a political issue with politicians on both sides of the political divide, where even some PKR leaders have called for the project to be reviewed.

PSR is a massive reclamation project to create three islands off the south coast of Penang Island.

The islands, loosely named A, B and C, will total 4,500 acres (1,821 ha) off the coast of Permatang Damar Laut.

The PSI project was first introduced in 2015 as the RM 46 billion Penang Transportation Master Plan (PTMP) funding module after the SRS consortium was appointed the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) for the PTMP on August 14, 2015.


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