Rundi: Third party to review safety of Bengoh Dam

Signs of seepage at the Bengoh Dam.

KUCHING, Dec 22: The Utilities Ministry will get a third party to review the safety of the Bengoh Dam after reassuring the public again of the dam’s structural and technical safety.

Utilities Minister Dato Sri Stephen Rundi Utom said this in a statement today.

He said the ministry has issued several statements on the Bengoh Dam and will continue to keep the general public updated whenever new information is available.

“Based on the report by the dam’s design consultant expert and contractor, the ministry would like to assure that the Bengoh Dam is technically and structurally sound and stable.

“The ministry will also get a third party peer reviewer on the dam,” said Rundi.

He said in the very unlikely event of an emergency situation, an emergency response plan (ERP) has been developed and this will be further communicated to the residents in the first quarter next year.

“The emergency infrastructure works are currently under the planning stage. Kuching Water Board will activate a WhatsApp group involving all the stakeholders to share information concerning the water release status of the dam on a regular basis in January 2018.

“An external emergency response drill will be carried out in April 2018 for the four kampung nearest to the dam and further details will be advised through close coordination with the Resident Office including Padawan District Office.”

Meanwhile, the emergency response drill for other remaining villages and schools will be carried out in stages in 2018.

Rundi said these emergency response plans will be reviewed and updated from time to time to suit changing situations and circumstances, such as relocation of a school or increase in the number of kampung.

“The documents will be made available for viewing and reading at Kuching Water Board’s Office,” he said.

Rundi made these statements in response to PKR Puncak Borneo branch chairman Willie Mongin’s statement on Dec 20 that villagers living upstream and downstream of the Bengoh Dam wanted detailed information on the ERP in case of a dam break.

Willie said villagers were worried as there was a lack of information and details of an ERP to mitigate losses in property damage and life in the event of a possible dam break.

He said dam seepage had been confirmed by the authorities and there is a reason for the villagers to be concerned.

Quoting the Environmental Impact Assessment of the dam, he said it warned that in case of dam failure, the impact would be disastrous (to the downstream residential areas), including Kuching, which would suffer flooding within 60 minutes of a dam break. — DayakDaily