Bakun Dam rock solid

Aerial view of the spillways at Bakun dam.

KUCHING: Based on world standards, Bakun hydroelectric dam is safe.

That is the finding of four members of the International Independent Review Panel from Brazil, the United States and Malaysia who visited the dam on May 20 this year.

Sarawak Hidro managing director-cum-chief executive officer Zulkifle Osman saidthe finding effectively put to rest all rumours concerning the dam.

“What the report (by the four members) means is that there is no truth about the rumours that the Bakun Dam’s spillways are cracking.

“We have closed the two spillways from Sunday to today (Friday) as requested by Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) to give way for blasting work to be carried out at Pelagus Rapids,” Zulkifli told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Zulkifle disclosed that many people had called him regarding the low water level at the upper Rajang, especially above Kapit town, and he had told them the reason.

“I would like to thank members of the public for their concern. But rest assure that the dam is safe,” he said, adding that he was grateful to The Borneo Post for its quick response which enabled the rumours to be quashed.

When contacted, a spokesman of Putra Sentosa Enterprise, which has been awarded the contract to blast jutting rocks at Pelagus Rapids, said they had been doing the blasting works since June 4.

“Today we are very happy that we have been able to blast off Batu Wong Nabau which is the hardest of the seven rocks we need to clear for safer river navigation.

He added that Batu Wong Sukat, which is considered the most dangerous rock in the rapids, would be their next target.

He was optimistic that the blasting works could be completed by next month ahead of schedule.

“We would be able to achieve our target if the weather permits.” he said.

Putra Sentosa is using both local and foreign expertise to carry out this task.

Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing had said during the initial blasting works on May 18 that the main reason to blast off the jutting rocks in the rapids was to ensure river safety as many lives, including high-ranking government officials, had lost their lives in the dreaded one km-long rapids.

Masing added that he had recommended the project to the state government two years ago.

“We would also like to assure that the blasting work would not spoil the overall beauty of the rapids as only seven dangerous rocks would be blasted.”

The locals call the seven rocks Wong Lapoh, Wong Nabau, Batu Kawie, Wong Sukat, Wong Tilan, Batu Naga and Wong Pantu.

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