Residents from three villages here breathed a sigh of relief when swift action from the Sabah Land and Survey Department renewed hopes that their seven-year wait will soon be over following publication of their plight in the Daily Express.
Twenty-six of them who have registered land titles received a letter of offer from the department, Monday 5 February, and can expect their compensation to be paid after submission of required documents.
A team of officers from the department, led by its Director Datuk Safar Untong, came to Kg Gaya Ratau to assist them in the process.
Last Thursday, Daily Express was approached by village headman Dusup Gilung who highlighted the residents' concern over the long delay in compensation settlement for their land and properties which were acquired by the Government in 2011 to make way for a road upgrading project.
Dusup had said villagers, including some who were in their twilight years, were hoping that the compensation could be settled early this year.
"The oldest villager is 83 years old, while another is 78 this year. They expressed hope that the payment could be made early this year so that they can have the money before anything happens to them," he was quoted as saying.
When explaining to some of the residents who were present during a meeting at the community hall, Safar said 50 building structures affected, out of a total of 73, will also be compensated after the completion of a re-inspection exercise by the Public Works Department. Twenty-three had already been paid some time ago.
However, he brought them more good news when announcing that their building structures built on native customary right land - including the land itself - that were affected by the acquisition will not only qualify for compensation but also land titles will be issued.
He said 44 pieces of affected NCR land were still awaiting settlement, pending the completion of a fast-track survey exercise which will be carried out by the department soon.
Also present were the department's senior Principle Assistant Director Awang Fauzi Awang Tahir and the Assistant Collector of Land Revenue of Tuaran Maikol Dony Akang @ Michael.