No decision yet on Papar Dam contract, says Sabah CM

NGOs and villagers during a protest and prayer service at the proposed site for the Papar Dam project last year.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal has rubbished a claim by former prime minister Najib Razak that the Papar Dam contract is being awarded to a company linked to the Penang tunnel project.

“The state Cabinet has yet to decide. It will be announced later. There is nothing to worry about, it’s properly done,” Shafie told reporters at his office here today.

“The project is for the good of Sabah, to ensure electricity and water supply is sufficient.”

Najib had claimed in a Facebook post that Wira Syukur, one of the shareholders of the Penang tunnel project, was in the running for the RM3 billion project.

He included a screenshot of a letter of intent (LOI) in his posting, allegedly signed by former Sabah water department director Amarjit Singh and addressed to two companies, including Wira Syukur, informing them that they had been shortlisted for the development and execution of the dam and associated works.

He questioned how Amarjit could have signed the letter, dated Oct 10 last year, when the Kota Kinabalu High Court had ruled his appointment as the water director as illegal the previous day.

Amarjit declined to comment on Najib’s posting, saying that it was only an LOI and not a letter of award.

The site in Mondoringin, Papar, earmarked for the proposed RM3 billion dam project.

NGOs and residents from more than 10 villages in Papar and neighbouring district Penampang have held protests against the proposed mega project.

They claim it is a rehash of the Kaiduan dam project proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government which was scrapped by Pakatan Harapan after it took over power.

Three Penampang residents have also filed a judicial review to determine the validity of the LOI.

Meanwhile, new water department director Edward Lingkapo declined to comment on previous developments but stressed that the Papar Dam project was crucial to solve water shortage problems on the west coast.

“We are definitely going to need the dam. If it is not implemented, we will have a serious problem with water shortage,” he told FMT.

He said the project, which would take five years to complete, should have been done 10 years ago.

“The previous BN government had spoken about the need for a dam and now, the new government realises its importance too. This dam will solve the water problem on the west coast for 25 years.”

Lingkapo also said the department was acting against illegal water connections which were a major contributor to the water problems.

“It is unfair to paying customers because these water thieves don’t care about the leakages that contribute to the low water pressure.

“We are drawing up new rules and regulations to get the public to help save water,” he said.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.