KUCHING, March 8 — Malaysia’s biggest hydroelectric project will now pass directly into the Sarawak government’s hands.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg announced today his government’s acquisition of the controversial Bakun Dam from the federal government at a cost of RM2.5 billion.
“We have reached an agreement with the prime minister for the state government acquire the entire equity interest of Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd (SHSB), the owner and operator of the Bakun Dam, from the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.
“We are acquiring it at cost of RM2.5 billion from the federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated,” he told reporters here.
He said the Bakun Dam will be placed and managed by the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), which will also undertake to settle all outstanding loans.
The chief minister said the Bakun Dam will be a major revenue earner for the state and SEB, adding that it has already been making profits since it started operations.
He also said the state government will also take over the land surrounding the dam and the reservoir area from Federal Land Commission.
Abang Johari said the takeover of Bakun Dam is expected to be completed within two months.
With the acquisition, the state government and its wholly-owned power company will have full ownership of all electricity generation facilities in Sarawak, providing SEB with greater flexibility in optimising the management and operation of electricity supply.
Abang Johari said Sarawak’s takeover of the Bakun Dam is a strategic impetus for the state to venture into digital economy.
“The acquisition is a major concession by Putrajaya and I would like to thank the prime minister for this,” he said, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Construction work on 2,400 megawatts Bakun Dam began in 1996 and was completed in 2010 and was partly commission a year later.
It was fully commissioned in July 2014.
Apart from Bakun Dam, SEB has the 944 megawatts Murum Dam and the 100MW Batang Ai Dam under its stable.
Construction work on the 1,200MW Baleh dam is expected to commence later this year.
Meanwhile, SEB chief executive officer Sarbini Suhaili said the state-owned power supplier is finalising details of the transaction with the federal Ministry of Finance officials, and will make a formal announcement with the state government when the Share Sale Agreement is signed.