- Tetsuo Fujii broke down in tears after knowing he had played a role in transferring hydropower expertise to Sarawak
When he first came to the state as the Batang Ai Hydroelectric Dam project manager, there were no local engineers in his team.
“I had 16 young engineers in my team and all of them were from Japan. Sarawak had no engineers then.
“But knowing that what we did paved the way for more local engineers, I feel touched and a little part inside of me feels proud that I could help Sarawak to move forward,” said 86-year-old Fujii when met by The Rakyat Post.
Batang Ai Dam celebrated its 30th anniversary on Aug 21.
Fujii was invited as the guest of honour and was presented with a special award for his contribution to the state.
The dam, which began its operations on Aug 21,1985, was officiated by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and its anniversary celebration was officiated by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
Not only did Batang Ai dam pave the way for the creation of more local dam experts in the state, but it also provided a valuable “proof of concept” for the future of Sarawak’s sustainable energy.
It also provided Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) with the knowledge and resources to build on that concept.
The dam, in addition, was also helpful to the environment.
Jabu said the Lanjak Entimau National Park, which shares a border with Kalimantan’s Beting Kerihun National Park, was home for the orang utan.
“This proves that the dam is environmentally-friendly. We even allocated land three times the size of Singapore for the orang utan population,” said Jabu, adding that the dam’s success showed that all the negative claims of anti-dam protesters were baseless.
“They know what Sarawak can achieve and they just don’t want us to succeed. Batang Ai Hydroelectric Dam project is our success.”
In commemorating Batang Ai’s 30th anniversary, SEB embarked on special social investments costing RM3 million.
These social investments, among others, included internal rewiring of all 22 longhouses, benefiting 450 households, and providing grants to longhouse development committees, churches and school activities.
For some of the remote longhouses that still rely on diesel-powered generators and are not connected to the grid, SEB also sponsors solar conversion, namely in Rumah Kino and Rumah Manggat areas.
“We are also working with the state to construct a solar hybrid scheme for Nanga Delok area to cover two villages and a school there.
“Work is expected to begin next year,” said SEB group chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit.