KOTA KINABALU, March 26, 2015:
Villagers whose homes will be destroyed to make way for the Kaiduan Dam organised a peaceful protest in Penampang yesterday.
Shocked with the government’s recent announcement to speed up the dam construction in view of the possible water shortage by 2030, villager Mary Giun lamented that land belonging to natives were always earmarked for major projects.
“Why do the lands of the natives, our lands, have to be the ones sacrificed? Not only for dams, but for other development projects including big-scale oil palm plantations or sold off to big companies, why does it always have to be lands of the natives?” she was quoted by The Borneo Post.
She stressed that villagers had to sacrifice their homes but the government never gave them anything in return.
A representative of the Taskforce Against Kaiduan Dam, Giun from Kampung Terian, noted that at least 2,000 indigenous Kadazandusun people from 11 villages, will lose their homes, livelihood and history, should the controversial Kaiduan Dam project go through.
Deputy chief minister cum Infrastructure Development minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan had on Tuesday reiterated the need to construct the Kaiduan Dam within the next three years to ensure continuous water supply in the west coast, otherwise Sabah would have a bad water crisis by 2030.
According to Pairin, the existing Babagon Dam was supplying “just enough” water to consumers within the west coast, and feared that with the increasing population and development, it would not be able to accommodate the demands.
So, despite the continuous protests by the villagers of the affected areas along with support from various quarters including PKR, Pairin had, on more than one occasion, hinted the government’s plan to go through with the Kaiduan Dam project was a measure to avoid a water shortage crisis.
Giun added that while they understood the concerns of a foreseeable water crisis, they have yet to receive any justifications as to how much water was needed.
“Has anything been done to overcome poor water management? Why is Sabah the state with the highest number of non-revenue water percentage of 57?” asked Giun, who was among those who gathered for the peaceful protest at the Penampang Cultural Centre, where the World Water Day Conference and Exhibition was being held.
Moyog assemblyman Terence Siambun who expressed his support for the protest, however stressed the government must not lead the people to make more sacrifices for its past mistake.
“It seems that the government was unprepared when they built the Babagon Dam almost two decades ago, because they failed to see the population growth.
“Probably they didn’t foresee the development and increased activities would affect water supply? That’s actually odd. And now they want the Penampang people to go through similar trouble when the old promises made were not fulfilled,” Siambun stressed, when contacted by The Rakyat Post, today.
He said the Kaiduan Dam was not the best solution to the predicted water crisis.
The relevant authorities, Siambun said, needed to look into the existing services and management, including leakages in pipes.
“How is it that 57% of the clean water supplied to our people is wasted?” Siambun asked, adding that he would continue to bring up the matter in the coming state assembly sitting.