KUCHING: The Bengoh Dam is technically and structurally sound and stable, and not as alleged by certain quarters in the media, recently. Minister of Utilities, Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom during a press conference at State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here, yesterday that the the issue has gone viral recently. He affirmed the statement after consulting the consultant, expert and contractor of the dam.
“In fact the design and construction of the dam involved the inputs of experienced international dam specialists from the United Kingdom, and a specialist dam contractor from China which has built more than 200 dams around the world, in collaboration with an established local contractor. “This design and subsequent construction was further reviewed by a peer reviewer who is a world renowned dam specialist from Australia.
The Bengoh Dam has been operational and fully performing its functions as designed since the end of 2015,” said Dr Rundi. He added that the recent lowering of the water level at the reservoir was in accordance with the operating procedures as advised by the dam’s consultant.
“It was a planned lowering of the water level by releasing the water through the draw off culvert, and was not caused by any fault or dam leakage. As such, the dam’s integrity and safety are not compromised whatsoever. “This was confirmed by the dam’s consultant and their specialist from Halcrow Consultant, United Kingdom, during his recent periodic inspection visit to the site in late October, 2017,” he said. Dr Rundi also said that some seepages through the joints are expected and the wet patches seen on the areas are due to these seepages. “In the construction of concrete dams, construction, contraction and thermal movement joints are part of the structure.
“Some water flow through these joints is expected. What was seen on site was actually a designed contraction joint, and not a `crack’ as alleged,” he added. Meanwhile, Dr Rundi said in accordance with the standard operating procedures for all dams constructed worldwide, there is already an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place.
“In the very unlikely event of an emergency situation, the relevant parties, including the downstream residents, would be informed immediately and an evacuation plan triggered. “Evacuation areas on higher grounds have been designated, and the emergency response plan would be immediately executed.
“In fact, a dialogue and workshop on the ERP was held in a local hotel at the end of 2016, participated by all the relevant government agencies, the contractor and consultant, the headmen of all the affected villages and the media. “Routine monitoring of movements of the dam body to ensure its safety has been carried out since the construction stage, and is continuing as part of the dam’s standard operating procedures,” Dr Rundi affirmed.