Tuesday, 27 July 2010
By Queville To
KOTA KINABALU: Standing tall on an arid piece of land in Kudat is a dam that has cost the government RM300 million to build. Construction on the multi-million-ringgit project began five years ago and it is now almost complete.
It looks sturdy and well-built and appears like it could do what it was built to do -- hold sufficient water to quench the thirst of the district. But therein lies a problem. There is no water source anywhere in sight.
Now, the Sabah DAP has expressed grave concern that the soon-to-be-completed Milau Dam near Sikuati in the northern-most district of the state may end up as yet another white elephant.
Its concern was based on the fact that without a viable water source, the dam must depend on rain.
A downpour is a rarity here, considering that Kudat is known to be the driest place in Sabah.
Sabah DAP chief Hiew King Cheu made the observation following a fact-finding inspection by him and several DAP leaders at the project site last Saturday.
He said the inspection was prompted by some concerned local residents who doubted the feasibility of the project.
Hiew said he was told that the project was first proposed some 15 years ago, but never got off the ground due to strong objections and criticism from the people there who said there was no water source in the vicinity.
Nevertheless, the project started on Aug 1, 2005, and was supposed to be completed by the contractor on Jan 31, 2008. But extensions were granted and it is now estimated to be 99% complete.
Gross waste of public funds
The dam is supposed to supply water to the water treatment plant located a few kilometres away next to a small stream.
A new pipeline was also constructed to connect the treatment plant to the existing pipeline from Kota Marudu to Kudat to alleviate the perennial water shortage in the Kudat district.
“What is the use of the dam when there is no water source? Just depending on the rain will not be sufficient to supply the whole of Kudat district. This could well end up as another 'white elephant' project by the Barisan Nasional government,” Hiew said in a statement today.
Hiew, who is also the Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament, said the dam was a glaring example of gross wastage of public funds.
He asked how the BN government could allow such a harebrained and wasteful project to go ahead and at the same time claim that it was cutting subsidies to the people to save money.
Hiew also claimed that compensation payments had not been fully disbursed by the state government to the affected villagers for the land acquired.
“We received many complaints during the visit. It is understood that the kampung folks received only about 75% of the compensation," he said.
"Why can’t the state government settle the payment quickly?” he asked, saying that it was a well- known fact that the people in the district are among the most deprived in the state.