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Acquisition, resettlement send Bengoh cost spiralling

 | October 27, 2011

Sarawak's yet-to-be completed Bengoh Dam could cost an additional RM60.57 million, according to the 2010 Auditor General's Report.

PETALING JAYA: Severe delays in the construction of Sarawak’s Bengoh Dam could send costs skyrocketing by an additional RM60.57 million, warned the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report.

The dam, located about 40km from Kuching, will supply untreated water to the Kuching Water Board’s treatment plant until 2030.

The initial construction cost stands at RM310.65 million. The amount was a secured loan from the federal government.

Work began in July 2007 and was scheduled for completion in December 2010 but as of February 2011, only 97.3% of the dam has been completed.

The audit report has attributed the delay to poor coordination between land acquisition, the resettlement of nearby villagers and the preparation of the Bengoh Residents Resettlement Scheme.

The dam will affect 1,585 people from four villages.

The audit report found that as of February 2011, the land acquisition and resettlement processes were far from complete as the resettlement site had been changed numerous times.

“To avoid flooding in the affected villages during the dam construction, an additional culvert had to be built costing RM1.65 million.

“This further required additional work to secure a section of the Bengoh riverbank downstream which cost another RM0.55 million,” noted the report.

Resettlement issues stalls work

In September 2010, the Works Department recommended that villagers be temporarily relocated to a nearby area.

It said that the total cost, including housing rental and allowances, would amount to RM39.81 million and would be borne by Sarawak government.

The audit, however, estimated that this cost could easily balloon to RM58.37 million.

The audit also found that the delay in resettlement had stalled work on the water catchment area, which was originally scheduled to begin on June 2010.

As a result, mechanical and electrical equipment like pipes and sluice valves could not be installed, tested and handed over to the Works Department.

The audit report estimated the cost of extending the warrant on these equipment at RM5.20 million.

The current cost of storing the equipment stands at RM136,000.

The dam is now only expected to be fully operational by the end of 2013.


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