Kapit businessmen want participation in dam project works


KAPIT: The Kapit Chinese Chamber of Commerce wants Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to honour some, if not all, of its promises to give their members business opportunities during the building of the Baleh dam.

Its chairman, Kapitan Ling Hang Ping, said the so-called business opportunities brought about by the building of the dam were by-passing the local businessmen.

Ling Hang Ping

He said this after chairing a meeting of Kapit Chinese Chamber of Commerce here on Thursday evening.

The RM10-billion dam, to be built over a period of 10 years, is the second largest rockfill dam in Malaysia, after Bakun Dam in Belaga. The initial ground works have already started; the construction of diversion underground tunnel, blasting of rocks, and clearing of sites, among others. Thousands of workers, including foreigners, are already working at the site.

A delegation of Chinese community leaders and representatives of the business communities here, had held a dialogue session with SEB officials in Kuching on the Baleh dam sometime ago. The delegation put forward several proposals.

“One of them is to request SEB to give some small businesses to the local businessmen, such as the supply of food and rations, and the transportation of goods and material. Work on the dam has already started but none of our members are involved in these small businesses.

“SEB officials promised to look into our request, but sadly, they seem to have forgotten everything,” Ling lamented.

He added: “Another issue which we raised (during the dialogue) was that the contractors and their employees open bank accounts with the local bank branches in Kapit. But sadly, this is also not the case.

“The (dam) contractors were also asked to set up offices here (Kapit) but they preferred to set up offices in Sibu instead. As a result, Kapit doesn’t benefit at all from the dam construction. There is simply no economic spin-off.”

Ling thus called on SEB to be sensitive to the feeling of the local business community by letting them to do some minor contract works like the supply of food and ration, transportation of workers and so forth.