KUCHING: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly disallowed an opposition lawmaker's motion on the leakage at the Bengoh dam on the grounds that it is not urgent.
Citing local media reports on Sunday (Nov 12) that the Bengoh dam near here had shown signs of water seepage, See Chee How (PKR- Batu Lintang) tabled an emergency motion on Wednesday (Nov 15) urging the state government to appoint an independent dam consultant to examine the seepage and determine its potential risk of harming the dam.
Although state Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi explained on Monday (Nov 13) that the dam was "technically and structurally sound and stable," See claimed that the minister was briefed by the dam's contractor and consultants whose reports were "misleading, contradictory and self-serving at best".
He also called on the state government to review the dam's emergency response plan, conduct workshops on the plan with residents living downstream of the dam and audit the dam's safety.
Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar said although the issue raised in the motion was of public importance, it lacked urgency as Dr Rundi had already assured the public of the dam's safety after being briefed on it.
"Batu Lintang took the alarmist view that the briefing by the contractor and consultants was misleading, contradictory and self-serving. The minister spent almost the entire day being briefed on the dam by consultants and experts.
"A consultant from Britain was flown in and confirmed that the integrity of the dam is not affected. The minister is in the know and has been fully briefed on the dam, so the issue of urgency does not arise," he said in disapproving the motion.
Asfia also said seepage at dams was a normal occurrence.
"However, good engineering practice requires the seepage to be patched as much as possible as a visibility issue and not because dam safety is compromised.
"The contractor is considering patching up the area concerned and this will likely take up to six months to complete," he added.