You got to hand it to Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu. He doesn’t know the facts – his own admission – but he still thinks the Bakun losses could have been averted.
Reports have said that cost over-runs of RM1.7 billion have been incurred by Sime Darby on a contract worth RM1.8 billion for the dam. Now not only is the Bakun Dam jinxed, a hex has been placed on Sime Darby too after it touched the project.
From the Borneo Post:
KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu believed the overspending in the Bakun Dam project by Sime Darby Berhad could have been averted if there were proper planning, implementation, internal auditing and monitoring.
“I do not know the fact, and not able to give objective comment. (But as far as the state government is concerned) the government is focused and our policy is to have planning, implementation, internal auditing and monitoring done properly.
Contrast Jabu’s position with Mahathir’s in his blog entry:
The Bakun hydro project was given to Sime Darby and Chinese partner at RM1.8 billion.
Now the CEO has been dismissed because of cost overrun in the Bakun project amounting to RM900 million. But I believe, and Sime Darby can correct me, the overrun is more than that because the Government has already compensated Sime Darby with about RM700 million. So total cost overrun would be almost equal to the bidded price of RM1.8 billion. The price has been doubled.
How come the bid is so low? I would think the engineers would know that they would not be able to build at RM1.8 billion.
Who are the consultants in Sime Darby? How come they okayed such a low cost for the project?
Is it only the CEO who was responsible? Who are the others who were involved with the project and failed to see that the cost overrun was very high and the project has been delayed by almost 3 years. I think responsibility should be shared. I was told of this cost overrun and delay three years ago.
Mahathir should know all about cost over-runs. Wasn’t he prime minister when the North-South Highway was hit with cost over-runs that doubled the initial bid amount?
And talking about shared responsibility, a huge amount of the responsibility for the Bakun fiasco should fall on Mahathir. It was his administration that came up with the ill-conceived project in the first place. He can’t blame anyone for that. And yet…
It could produce 2,400 megawatt, but Sabah and Sarawak needed just about 1,000 megawatts even in the 1990s. The question was what to do with so much electricity.
Bringing it to the Peninsular would need 600 miles of undersea cables. This has never been done anywhere . The longest was only 200 miles. It would cost as much as a power station in Peninsular Malaysia. To use in Sarawak we would have to have a power-hungry industry.
Aluminium smelting consumes thousands of megawatts of electricity. But to be viable the electricity must be cheap. A hydro project would provide cheap electricity even though the capital cost would be very high. So while I was still Prime Minister an investor was found for both the power plant and the aluminium smelter.
But wasn’t the original rationale for the dam to transmit electricity to the peninsula? Talk of the smelters only came later after they found the undersea cables too expensive and uncertain.
If only he had listened when civil society groups called on him to scrap the dam project, Sime Darby would have one less headache. But no, he was adamant.
Everyone is talking about Sime Darby losses – but what about the losses incurred by the public? Who do you think is paying for Sime Darby’s cost over-runs?