September 2, 2008

Damning the Bakun dam (source: Malaysiakini)

Malaysiakini reported on 30 Aug, 2008 in "Bakun dam comes under fire", that according to the Auditor-General’s Report 2007, the cost of the controversial Bakun dam has escalated from RM4.5 billion to RM7.5 Billion. So far, RM3.91 billion has already been spent on the project.

Some of the "weaknesses" highlighted by the Auditor-General’s Report are:

- an additional RM708 million was approved for construction of the main dam even though contractually it should be borne by the contractor

- completion date of the main dam is supposed to be in Sept 2007 but is now extended to June 2010

- delay in completion of the main dam has resulted in compensation claims by other affected contractors to the tune of RM510.8 million. RM100 million has already been approved for payment as compensation to these companies

It was also reported in The Star, "A-G’s report: Costly delay on Bakun dam project", that one of the electro-mechanical works contractors, BEM 1-C Contract Consortium, seeking compensation of RM349.46 million had yet to sign a contract with SHSB (Sarawak Hydro Sdn Bhd the 100% government-owned company now responsible for building the dam). Not only that, M317.64mil in deposit and progress payment have already been paid to this contractor even though the contract is yet to be signed!

"Weaknesses" seems too polite a term to be used for such gross negligence and incompetence exhibited in handling the project. No privately owned company would have tolerated such mismanagement. Heads would have rolled long before it reaches this point. However, the sole shareholder of SHSB is the government and ultimately the funds come from taxpayers and it seems like when it comes to taxpayers' money there is no accountability for mismanagement. Various parties seem to treat the source of the funds as a bottomless honeypot which they can draw from endlessly with impunity.

It is also shocking that while SHSB is quick to offer compensation to contractors affected by delays caused by another contractor, it is not so forthcoming when it comes to the 10,000 indigenous people who were displaced by the Bakun dam project (the area affected is equivalent to the size of Singapore). As of December 2007, some of the affected residents of the Bakun area have yet to received full compensation and RM46.28mil is yet to be paid to them.

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8 March 2008

A New And Better Malaysia

Has Emerged