Kuala Belait - Occupants of the much debated industrial land located along the river bank of Kg Sungai Duhon, Kuala Belait, are still concerned for the future of their companies, with some still sceptical of the compensation currently being offered by the government.
This year's Legislative Council Meeting, among other things, heard the conundrum faced by a number of industrial players in the oil district who have been given notice to evict their prime TOL land because the area had been deemed "unsafe" following government inspections, which also found that the area has had a negative impact on the environment and poses a danger to the community living nearby.
Even though occupants were told that they would be provided with another TOL site in Kuala Balai, some have expressed their dismay over the actions of the Energy Department at the Prime Minister's Office and the Land Department under the Ministry of Development, claiming that the grace period given to them to vacate the premises was too short.
Coupled with uncertainty, these local entrepreneurs are themselves unsure and worried over what the impact would be on their livelihood and the people who are on their payroll. However, the government has called for higher safety regulations for the industrial site and has plans to upgrade the area to meet international standards.
On condition of anonymity, among those who spoke to the Weekend Bulletin, said that after years of building the company from the ground up, moving to a different location could potentially mean having to start over and because some of their onsite projects are still ongoing, more time is being asked before they begin the process of moving out.
"We have been offered d new place but what we do not exactly know is the feature of the area, as we have yet to be given the opportunity to carry out our own inspections," they said. "This company is important to us especially to our employees and workers because this is our source of income."
The Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awg Hj Mohammad Yasmin bin Hj Umar, during the LegCo meeting, explained that the government had allocated $5 million to compensate those affected and stressed that the decision was also made as a means to tackle activities that are "non-beneficial" to the country, such as the storing of heavy vehicles and the utilisation of facilities for personal and non-business related gains.
"Some have rented out their space to others and it has also been discovered that some use the space to construct their own vessels and not for business purposes," said the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office.
Though this statement is compelling enough from a financial stand point especially at a time when Brunei Darussalam is working hard towards strengthening its economy, another occupant stated that those who to follow the rules should not be the ones who have to pay for the indiscretion of others and called for stronger enforcement "to ensure that things like these do not happen".
"This has been going on for over a decade and to fix the situation does not mean to take away but rather correcting the issue," the occupant claimed.
Another occupant, who has invested over half a million dollars in the industrial business, said that the government notice to vacate the land that has been occupied for a significant amount of time was short from being logical, arguing that "there are other areas that are more suitable for government projects".--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin