Why were Bengoh folks not asked if they want to move out of dam area?
Why is the Sarawak government forcing Bengoh Dam natives to shift to a resettlement scheme which the Auditor General’s Report 2010 has described as ‘unsuitable’?
The Sarawak government has been urged to immediately carry out a census poll on the 394 families from four villages affected by the construction of the multi-million ringgit Bengoh Dam.
State opposition PKR said a completed census would show how many families and villagers from Kampung Taba Sait, Rejoi, Bojong-Pain and Semban would be willing to shift to the resettlement scheme between Kampung Semadang and Skio.
“This census is necessary because the resettlement scheme risks being an expensive flop as the affected villagers appear not in favour of moving into the resettlement scheme,” said See Chee How, Sarawak PKR vice-chairman.
See, a lawyer who is also representing the villagers, said the census was imperative considering the recent Auditor General’s Report 2010 which had strongly criticized the Bengoh Dam project.
“I must draw the public’s attention to the drawback of the Bengoh Dam project as it had attracted much criticism from the Auditor-General’s Report 2010 published two weeks ago.
“The Auditor-General’s Report has actually identified two areas of vital concerns. Firstly, it found the resettlement for the affected families to be ‘unsuitable’ and ‘questionable’.
“Secondly, completion of the dam project has been delayed and as a result they expect the cost to over-run to RM58 million,” he said.
Resettlement scheme ‘unsuitable’
Work on the dam, which is situated some 40 kilometres from here, began in July 2007.
Once completed it will supply untreated water to the Kuching Water Board’s treatment plant until 2030.
The dam was scheduled for completion in December 2010 but as of February 2011, only 97.3% of the dam has been completed.
The initial cost of the dam is RM310.65 million but the delay is expected to cost the government an additional RM60. 57 million.
According to the AG’s Report, the delay was due to poor coordination between land acquisition, the resettlement of nearby villagers and the preparation of the Bengoh Residents Resettlement Scheme.
The report has found the resettlement location ‘unsuitable’ and ‘questionable’.
Said See: “As the Auditor-General’s Report was vague on the first issue (unsuitability and questionable resettlement location), the state BN government seems to have found an excuse to its shortcoming.
“The MP for Mambong James Dawos Mamit and Bengoh assemblyman Jerip Susil had commented and declared that the Auditor-General’s Report was referring to the original plan of resettling the affected villagers near Kampung Bayur.
“However, since the dam project was carried out in 2007, the affected villagers have been told of the resettlement site near Kampung Semadang and not Kampung Bayur.
“There is no reason why the AG’s Report was referring to any original resettlement plan near Kampung Bayur.”
AG’s Report exposed flaws
See, who is also the Batu Lintang assemblyman, pointed out that the AG’s Report had exposed an ill-conceived resettlement plan of which there was no prior consultation with the affected village families.
“Whether the resettlement scheme is near Kampung Bayur or Kampung Semadang, it appears that the affected village families are not moving into the resettlement scheme.
“As of today, these affected Bidayuh families are building their new houses in Mok Ayung, Nyagong, Sting and Kandong which are all situated in upper Bengoh, not far from their original village settlements.