It is coincidental or what-water transport in Rajang can only resume after July 2010-when the state assembly’s mandate runs out? The water level is lowered due, in large part, to the impoundment of Bakun Dam. Apparently they are rushing to finish the impoundment to start producing power and make money-oblivious to the tens of thousands of interior folks whose livelihood depend on the Rajang’s water transport. Kapit remain a town without road transport to the outside world-thus have to rely on water transports for its daily needs. But their problems have to wait for some one to make enough money before anything can be done to restore their river to their use. Perhaps the state elections will be the people’s other option?
By FMT staff
KUCHING: Residents in the 15 longhouses in the Sungai Assap resettlement scheme will ‘only’ receive power from the Bakun project if the authorities provide the transmission lines.
“We will supply power from Bakun to the Belaga township and longhouses in Sungai Assap if there are plans by the relevant authorties to provide transmission lines, ” said the Bakun project management office.
The Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme is home to more than 10,000 natives who were forced out following the state’s move to develop the RM7 billion Bakun Dam project in 1996.
At that time, the government had promised them a range of facilities. But much of what was promised is yet to be delivered. Many of the natives are also still awaiting their compensation of RM 20,000 and RM 50,000 from the government.
Speaking to newsmen after visiting the Bakun project recently, political secretary to the Prime Minister, Shahlan Ismail, said it was imperative that authorities engage the local community and resolve problems accordingly.
“The PM is very serious about the welfare of the people and wants their problems to be resolved quickly. The relevant authorities must engage and communicate regularly with the public on steps to be taken on the ground,” said Shahlan.
Shahlan was among several top officials from the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) in the PM and Deputy PM’s offices who had visited the settlement and Bakun project recently. The delegation also visited the Long Singu Penan settlement, Lusong Laku primary school and SMK Belaga.
Sarawak Hidro managing director, Zulkifle Osman, who briefed the group said the impoundment of the 205-metre dam had begun in Oct 13.
“The threshold level is 195 metres, where dammed water will enter the inlet and turn the turbines to kick-start power generation.
“At the current rate, the impoundment of Bakun hydroelectric dam is ahead of schedule. As of Monday the water in the reservoir has reached 150.4 metres. It could reach the critical mass of 195 metres for power generation as early as April next year,” he said.
Zulkiflie also allayed commonly-held fears that the impoundment would further reduce the water levels in the voluminous Rajang river as had allegedly happened in October/November.
The dry spell coupled with the impoundment of the Bakun Dam had cut off river communications with communities in the upper reaches of Nanga Merit, Belaga, Song and Kapit, resulting in severe shortage of food supplies and hardship to locals in the vicinity.
Zulkifli said: “We don’t expect any untoward incidences. The water level between Belaga and Kapit town should be passable to normal riverine traffic, including express boats, by next July.
“But this could even happen earlier…as early as April if the present rate of impoundment continues.”
The Bakun Dam, which is the second highest concrete-rock filled dam in the world, is managed by Sarawak Hidro, a whollyowned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.