Malaysia: Sandakan ‘river of death’ a threat to lives and livelihood

stephanie lee The Star 28 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: It is a river of death, with hundreds of freshwater fish found floating along the Se­­galiud River in Batu Sapi, Sandakan.

They are believed to have died from waste pollutants discharged from factories and mills in the area.

Segaliud River, like the Kinaba­tangan River nearby, is a source of water to thousands of villagers in Sandakan and its surrounding areas.

But the stench was obvious when Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong visited the area following complaints from villagers.

“It looked like they had been dead for at least three days,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the villagers claimed that the river could have been polluted with pesticides, fertilisers and sediment from logging activities as well as effluent from palm oil mills that were nearby.

Liew said a police report had been lodged by the village head who alleged that the mills had discharged effluents into the river.

He said the villagers relied hea­vily on the river as a source of income as they catch fish, prawns, clams and crabs to earn a living.

He estimated that each household could lose about RM150 each day.

Liew said it could take about two months to clear the river of the pollu­tants.

This would mean that more than 60 registered fishermen in the area could face a loss of about RM9,000 if they were unable to fish for two months, he said.

Liew said that there were at least another 100 fishermen who did not register with the Fisheries Depart­ment.

The villagers also claimed that the water quality had declined and they were worried about its impact on their health.

Liew said he would take the matter up to the Agriculture and Food Industries as well as the Health and Well-being ministries for further action.