Plug water leaks and scrap Papar Dam, says Sabah senator

The Sabah government has been urged to stop leakage of water instead of thinking of building a new dam costing billions of ringgit. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah PPBM senator has urged the Sabah government to scrap the controversial Papar Dam project, saying there are many other effective alternatives to meet the state’s demand for power and water.

Penampang PPBM chief John Ambrose said the dam would damage the environment and remove a means of livelihood of indigenous people who had lived there for generations.

The state government should consider alternatives such as ending leakages, he said, noting that non-revenue water accounted for about 60% of the overall loss of water.

“If we can solve this wastage, it would at least solve a big portion of the water problem,” he said here today.

Another way to alleviate the water shortage was to gazette identified areas as water catchment areas, he added.

Ambrose said the government should take the advice of Dr Felix Tongkul, a professor with Universiti Malaysia Sabah, who proposed that the previous site, Kaiduan, initially earmarked for the dam project, be gazetted as a natural water catchment area.

“The best storage system is the one championed by Tongkul. Don’t cut the trees and keep large forest reserves. That is free storage made by God.”

John Ambrose.

He said Penampang PPBM is compiling a working paper on using the water catchment system proposed by Tongkul, which will be presented to the state government.

He called for a task force of government departments to solve the problem.

“I would also propose that the Forestry Department set up office in the Penampang district to start planting trees in all the areas affected by illegal logging. Illegal logging contributed 60% to the flash floods. The other 40% was due to hill-cutting and development.” he said.

“We have a good government policy but enforcement by the various departments is very poor,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose also claimed the state government had yet to reveal the exact new location of the dam and how many people will be affected. We don’t have details of the feasibility report for the Papar Dam project.

“This is something worrying the people, especially the people of Kaiduan, where the dam was initially proposed to be constructed.

Ceaser Mandela Malakun.

“Every day, I get calls from worried folks in Penampang who are expressing their objection towards the construction of the dam.

“I have visited the previous proposed site for construction of the dam in Kaiduan together with several NGOs and activists, including those now in the state government such as Jannie Lasimbang and Adrian Lasimbang.

“But I have yet to visit the new site announced by the state government,” he said.

Will villages get any new compensation package, asks Armada chief

The head of Penampang PPBM’s Armada wing, Ceasar Mandela Malakun, said it was worrying that an announcement that the dam will proceed was made without a proper feasibility study published or consultation held with the stakeholders.

Not many people realised that former infrastructure development minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan had announced a compensation package for the now-scrapped Kaiduan Dam project to help villagers start a new life in their new surroundings.

“The package included 0.3 acres of residential land for each household with a detached house, resettlement allowance of RM10,000 per household, payment of ‘sogit’ (customary fines) for burial grounds, financial compensation for loss of land, crops and building, five acres of agricultural land with land title for each household and RM500 monthly allowance for three years for each household.

“The new settlement would also have a school, health clinic, police post, tarred roads, electricity, water, telecommunication services and modern sewage, drainage, waste management, church, surau, community hall, sports field, grocery store, cultural centre and a burial ground.

“So, what is the package being offered now?”