ERP Simulation At Bengoh Dam Planned For Next April

KUCHING: A simulation of emergency response plan (ERP) for villagers affected by the Bengoh Dam in the unlikely event of a disater is scheduled for April next year.

This was revealed by a Kuching Water Board (KWB) engineer during a briefing held at the KWB site office near the dam yesterday. KWB is managing and operating the dam.

The engineer Wahab Lias said the water level at the reservoir would be reduced to 65 metres by March next year.

Wahab said he could not answer any question with regards to the safety of the dam as that is the duty and responsibility of the Public Works Department (PWD).

Kuching deputy Resident Tuah Suni, representatives of Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), local councillors and about 40 headmen and representatives from nearby villages attended the briefing which lasted more than an hour.

The headmen and community leaders living below the dam are concerned about the quality of water at the reservoir; that it is not discharged into Sungai Sarawak Kanan, that it emits unpleasant smell and washing in the river causes itching and rashes.

KWB officials said the discharge of water from the normal 80 metres to 65 metres during the rainy season is necessary to maintain a buffer (of sorts) to accommodate the unusual heavy rainfall, and that the discharge of water at the bottom and middle sections of the dam would ensure that the water at the reservoir maintain its (good) quality.

The villagers were anxious with the absence of the PWD representatives at the briefing to explain to them the safety and stability of the dam.

They said seepages at the downstream face of the dam were visible to the naked eyes even from a distance.

They were told to wait for April next year for the ERP simulation exercise. The villagers would be contacted through WhatsApp group messages and messages through the KWB hotline number.

Assuring the villagers that the Bengoh Dam is safe and stable, Wahab said KWB and other related government departments and agencies would most likely carry out safety courses for the villagers beginning next month.

The headman of Kampung Nyegol, Simo Sekam, who expressed his disappointment that the representative of PWD was absent said: In the notice for this meeting, we were told that we will be briefed on the safety

and security of the dam. However, we were only briefed on the intention of KWB to lower the water level to 65 metres. They need to answer the doubts of the villagers as to the security and safety of the dam.

The reason we do not work and take leave to attend this briefing is because we are worried about the safety and security of the dam, said another villager named Tangah Siel.

A representative from Semadang questioned the numerous cracks visible. A mere apology from an officer and his answer that we have to wait for an explanation from the PWD, is unacceptable.

When contacted, an PWD official said they were not at the briefing because it was a dialogue between the dam owner (Rural Water Supply Department), the operator (KWB), Kuching Resident Office and the affected villagers at the upper and lower reaches of the dam.

Source: The Borneo Post