KUCHING (Nov 4): Construction on the 1285MW Baleh Hydroelectric Project (HEP) has reached 33 per cent completion to date.

According to a press release, a key milestone for the HEP was achieved in September with the beginning of works for the Concrete Faced Rockfill Dam (CFRD).

This was commemorated with a rock placement ceremony attended by Sarawak Energy’s senior management and project delivery team, the project’s contractors, representative from Bukit Mambong District Office, and representatives from neighbouring communities.

Despite setbacks faced especially over the movement restriction orders of the Covid-19 pandemic such as skilled manpower shortages, and high-water levels hampering safe work conditions, the project has clocked a series of major milestones.

“Baleh HEP is one of Sarawak’s largest state infrastructure projects and it is Sarawak Energy’s largest hydropower project so far. Timely completion of this project by 2027 is crucial for securing the energy capacity required for future renewable demand for Sarawak and the region.

“We have been able to record good progress thanks to the support of the government and relevant agencies as well as the focus of our Project Delivery team and our contractors,” said group chief executive officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili in a statement today.

The Diversion Tunnels were safely completed In October 2020, diverting water from upstream Batang Baleh adjacent to the confluence of the Putai River through 1.2km long dual concrete-lined tunnels running parallel to each other to allow for the construction of the main dam.

Prior to the commencement of main dam works, another major milestone was reached in July 2022 when Sarawak Energy completed the package for the jetty, road and bridges.

“Meticulous planning, consideration and timely execution has led the team to this point where we are able to place the first section of rock – a critical component of the project as it means we are now beginning to work on the main dam. The movement of long lines of trucks filled with rocks of predetermined size and quality from the quarry site to the dam site will remain a significant activity over the next four years to enable safe and timely completion and commissioning of the project by 2027,” said Sarawak Energy executive vice president for project delivery Pramod Kumar Karunakaran.

“We managed to overcome our challenges through a strong focus, resilience, and collaboration amongst the project management team working closely with our contractors China Gezhouba Group Company Limited (CGGC) and Sinohydro Corporation, and all our stakeholders including local authorities and community. We were able to re-strategise and quickly make the necessary changes to adapt to the ever-changing environment and to maintain our momentum.”

Among those present at the rock placement ceremony were Sarawak Energy group chief operating officer James Ung, vice president for hydro Polycarp Wong, and general manager for Baleh HEP Tan Hang Kiak.

Elders from the nearby communities comprising Penghulu Jampi Raweng, Lemambang Jaman, and headmen from Rumah Laso, Rumah Unggam, Rumah Tajai, and Rumah Rentap led and conducted a blessing ceremony for safe works. – Source: The Borneo Post