A villager, Stephen Camson who lives nearby the private land said the order was approved and issued by the Penampang Assistant Collector Land Revenue (ACLR) on May 19, 1999 following an application by one of the villagers at that time.
He said it is necessary to build the road through the ROW site for security and safety purposes of the village as the private land is situated next to the main road.
"There is a need to build a wider road through the ROW site on the said land so that firefighters and fire engines could use the main road to put out fires in houses in the event of a blaze.
"For instance, a fire broke out in the village, last night (Tuesday) and destroyed 18 houses causing families to be homeless as many were renting the houses in the 7.15pm incident.
"What happened was that four fire engines were sent to the scene of the fire but only one fire engine managed to go inside to put out the fire as the present gazetted road is narrow and small," he said.
Camson, who works as a taxi driver, said this to reporters when met at his residence in Kg. Peringatan here on Wednesday.
If all the fire engines could enter the fire scene, he believed that more houses could have been saved from being razed.
"But what really worries me and the villagers here is thatÉwhat if the fire spread to my house and other houses nearby when only one fire engine could enter the location.
"My family and I were so worried and in fear when the fire broke out last night as my house is situated quite close to the scene.
"That is why it is important to build the road on the ROW site so as to facilitate fire engines and firefighters to do their work smoothly and any recurrence of fire incidents in the village could be prevented early with no casualties," he said.
Another benefit, Camson said, is that the road would not be congested with cars going in and out of the village when the gazetted roads are widened passing through the ROW site.
According to him, the local authorities in Penampang have acted appropriately based on the approval order.
But it was learnt that the landowner was adamant not to allow the implementation of the ROW on the land.
"Before Putatan was upgraded into a district, the jurisdiction fell under the local authorities in Penampang.
But now, I believe the local authorities here have the authority to ensure the ROW order on the land is re-executed with concrete results.
"Hence, we hope that the local authorities here will do something so that a wider gazetted road passing the ROW site could be constructed for the safety of the villagers and better traffic flow," he said.
It was learnt that the landowner has built a house on the ROW site and has rented it out.