KOTA KINABALU, Sept 2 ― The Sabah Progressive Party criticised caretaker chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal today for the state government’s reiteration that a controversial water dam will proceed.
Deputy party president Edward Dagul said this will hurt the ruling coalition in the state election at the end of this month.
“The people of Papar and Penampang got a big slap in the face when Shafie chose to go to Papar to announce that the hated Papar/Kaiduan dam will proceed. It is also a humiliation to all the elected assemblywomen, the senator and the Warisan MP Datuk Darell Leiking,” he said.
He said the decision showed that the ruling coalition was willing to lose voters in Papar, Penampang ― Limbahau, Moyog, Kapayan and Kawang.
“Warisan leaders like Shafie and infrastructure development minister Datuk Peter Anthony had tried to justify the dam by saying that Sabah needs more water supply. The hasty way behind the scenes to approve the Papar dam without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the appointment of a China contractor linked to the controversial RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel are shocking behaviour of a government.
“How is it that the earlier cost of RM2 billion for the Papar dam has been inflated to RM3 billion? How is the government going to pay for this dam? Who will be the recipients of these RM3 billion? There are important questions that the Warisan government has refused to answer,” he said.
He said that a better option was to improve the delivery system such as broken pipes and faulty pumps which contributed to some 50 per cent loss of water income.
“Why is the Warisan government making the Kaiduan/Papar Dam their first choice of water supply? It is a known fact that the rate of NRW (Non-Revenue Water) is 50 per cent. This means that 50 per cent of the water to be produced by the Papar dam will be lost due to broken pipes and faulty pumps.
“Yet, the Sabah government has allocated a meagre RM7.9 million for NRW in 2020. Instead, if the government is genuine to supply water, at least RM300 million per year must be allocated to reduce NRW until we have reached the international standards of about 20 per cent. If we do not invest in NRW reduction, then, more of our water will be wasted due to NRW,” he said.
Yesterday, Shafie said that the project, initially slated for Kaiduan in Penampang, would go ahead to solve the state’s water woes.
He said that although the state was aware of the criticism, the project would ultimately be beneficial.
He said that the dam would cost RM3 billion, and would be a state government project that would also include hydro electricity capability.
The project has faced heavy resistance from the indigenous communities since about a decade ago when it was first mooted by the Barisan Nasional state government.
Before the May 2018 elections, several Warisan and government elected representatives had echoed the objections and promised that the Warisan government would scrap the project.
Last year, Anthony said the project would be relocated to the adjacent constituency but upriver, earning the same protests from several communities.