KOTA KINABALU, Jan 15 — Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) is calling the Parti Warisan Sabah-led government out for their “U-turn” on building a dam on Sabah’s west coast after vocally opposing the project before the general election last year.
PBS vice president Datuk Johnny Mositun said his party had pursued the dam under the Barisan Nasional administration to solve the problem of inadequate water supply on Sabah’s west coast but faced severe criticism.
“We pursued the idea of Kaiduan Dam under the BN administration but the then opposition and certain NGOs blocked the idea. Now that they are in power, they are singing a different tune,” he said in a statement here.
He was responding to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s directive last week to the Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony to expedite the construction of the dam, which is now called the Papar Dam after it was shifted downstream.
Shafie gave the directive after being informed that fire-fighters had been hindered by low water pressure while battling last Friday’s fire at Pasir Putih, Putatan.
Mositun said PBS was not against a dam to address the problem, but objected to it being moved downstream into a more populated area and closer to Papar, exposing the people to danger.
“The original site for Kaiduan Dam was chosen because if the reservoir receives heavy rain excess water can be discharged into two rivers, reducing the danger of floods to heavily populated areas downstream in Papar and Penampang.
“It will also displace fewer native people. The same cannot be said for this Papar Dam. The Chief Minister should revert to the original Kaiduan Dam site if at all one must be built,” Mositun said.
Mositun, a Papar native, said the views and consent of those who would be directly affected or displaced, mainly KDM villagers, had not been consulted nor had their consent been sought.
“And who is to believe that complete scientific and technical studies for a dam of this size can be done within a span of six months since it was announced? On the other hand, it took years, including the EIA, for studies on the Kaiduan dam project.
“The Ministry of Infrastructure Development owes an explanation to the people on this, which is so far not forthcoming?” Mositun said, referring to the environmental impact assessment report.
Mositun said it would be wrong to “bulldoze” the new dam project when a proper proposal had already been done for the original Kaiduan Dam.
“Just work out the full details to compensate those affected and revert to the original Kaiduan Dam project, and we can have a win-win solution for all. A dam is a necessity, but there must be transparency, sound planning and no danger to anyone. That will be a win-win solution.
“It may look like a U-turn, but if it is the right thing to do, Shafie must sum up the will and courage to do so before the damage is done,” Mositun said. — Bernama