In a not-so-pleasant news carried by The Borneo Post on Friday May 11, 2012, the RM419 million geothermal power plant project has been put on hold by the Tawau Municipal Council TMC pending a meeting between TMC and Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd TGE.

Local media were told that the councilors “did not know anything about the project” and TMC as the local authority was also in the dark.For the record the Renewable Energy project would help the East Coast in addressing the acute power supply shortage with its 30MW initial production due in 2014.

Details are as follows:

Location : Apas Kiri, Tawau

Cost : RM400 million RM419mil as disclosed to TMC during the briefing

Generating capacity : 30MW

Energy tapping : via 12 wells, 1800m to 2000m deep

Build up area : 20 hectares

Expected completion : 3 years due in 2014

Tenure : 21-year REPPA with SESB

Awful, awful mistake: Communication gone to the drain?

It is understandable that the affected community would be duly worried about potential environmental mishaps in and around the site, and in every project water dam, power plant, nuclear facility, etc the people must be involved in the initial discussions. They are one of the stakeholders for such ventures, albeit not as direct owners. There are now claims that these villagers were not invited to the briefing. I can’t believe it; someone is duty-bound to prove it – hopefully the same local media who reported it will take the initiative.

TMC councilors vehemently denied any knowledge of the project. Read about it here. It is difficult to understand that TMC was not informed of significant development right in front of its door step. The proposed site is just 20km away from Tawau town.

TMC president did not state if he too, was in the dark about the proposal. Therefore, we’ll take the news at face value and assume that he was duly informed and invited to some of the more important briefings earlier on. In that case, the onus is on him to inform his councilors.What has gone wrong with our work efficiency?Let’s say these people councilors, villagers indeed know nothing about the approved geothermal power project. Who is at fault then? One would probably be quick to point to TGE Sdn Bhd or even SESB. If it is true that way, then I’ll say ‘serve them right’ for the delayed implementation plus liquidated and ascertained damages suffered as a result.

But I wouldn’t really buy it. TGE wouldn’t want to trade lack of communication for RM419,000,000.00 worth of investment. For that amount of money, the venture has to be done right the first time. And I believe Ir. Andrew Amalados have thought of this long before anyone else raised the issue.

My say: don’t under estimate the power of local communities

Read more: Here