Deputy CM calls for Water Dept revamp to solve water supply woes in Sabah

Water supply to the Keramat AU3 area in Hulu Klang was restored after days of water disruption, March 10, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Water supply to the Keramat AU3 area in Hulu Klang was restored after days of water disruption, March 10, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KOTA KINABALU, Sept 23 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin has called for a revamp of the state Water Department in efforts to find ways to resolve the water supply problem in Sabah.

The Works Minister during the question and answer session of the State Assembly sitting today said,

“It’s high time for Sabah to revamp all in the Water Department in order for us to find ways to supply water to Sabahans.”

He was replying to Usukan assemblyman Datuk Seri Salleh Said who asked if the state government is looking at other ways to resolve the water supply problem in Sabah.

“Is there any other way to expedite (the resolution of the problem)? For example, privatising the water distribution, billing, the whole package,” asked Salleh.

Salleh also opined that the resolution to the problem depended on funding from the federal government either as loan or grant.

“I noticed that the funding is sometimes only on paper and the allocation is usually only disbursed at the end of the year which makes it difficult to implement the plans,” he added.

Bung Moktar in his reply also asked for time to fulfill his promise of a blueprint for the water supply in Sabah in two years’ time.

“Usukan YB’s concern is also mine. I understand the situation, people can tolerate the situation if there is no electricity but not when it comes to water. Most of our water treatment plants were built more than 30 years ago when the rivers were pristine.

“But most of our rivers are polluted now. Also in the past, Sabah and Sarawak did not participate in the country’s water supply program therefore because the State Government is managing its own water supply, it is unable to get direct allocation from the federal Government,” he stressed.

Bung Moktar disclosed that he had discussed the issue with the finance minister and there were several proposals planned to resolve the problem.

To a question by Banggi assemblyman Mohammad Mohamarin if the state government has any plans to upgrade the water supply infrastructure on the island, Bung Moktar assured him that he will be going down to the ground there to find out the problem.

“I received the report about the water supply problem in Banggi two weeks ago and will try to resolve the problem as soon as possible. I know the problem in the Kudat parliamentary area, I visited Bengkoka and found out that 60 villages there do not have clean water supply.

“There are no water pipes there, so how can water be supplied? I have contacted the federal Rural Development Minister with an invitation to visit Bengkoka and Banggi to see the situation there,” he said.

Mohammad told the House that the water treatment plant on Banggi is peculiar because instead of putting the tube well underground, it was installed on the surface of the river.

“Because of this, during the drought season, there will be no water supply. Are there any plans to improve or upgrade the water supply infrastructure on Banggi? Maybe the Government can build a dam or a water retention pond in the area,” he said.

Earlier Bung Moktar when replying to Salleh’s initial question on how the state Water Department is addressing the insufficient water supply in densely populated areas, especially Kota Belud, said that there are three water treatment plants that are supplying treated water to the district.

The capacity of the Kota Belud, Bayayat and Pandasan water treatment plants is 43 mld, he said, adding that the current domestic consumption is 42.1 mld.

Bung Moktar disclosed that since the earthquake in 2015, Kadamaian river experienced mud and sand flood which affected the water supply to the water treatment plants in Kota Belud.

The Works Ministry through the state Water Department received approval for two projects, the construction of tube wells at the Bayayat water treatment plant and the Kota Belud treatment plant.

“At the moment the tube well in Bayayat achieved 94 per cent in implementation and in the process of testing and commissioning. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“For the tube well at the Kota Belud water treatment plant, the construction was under the first Rolling Plan 2016 under the Rural Water Supply program for Sabah. It was funded by an allocation from the federal Rural Development Ministry,” he said, adding that the project is now at the stage of preparing the final tender draft to be presented to the federal Rural Development Ministry and is scheduled to commence in 2022.

The two tube wells will be the alternative raw water source when the water intakes at the Kota Belud and Bayayat water treatment plants are affected by the high turbidity of Kadamaian river.

Bung Moktar added that the state Water Department will be proposing a study for another water treatment plant to be constructed at Sungai Wariu and it has been included in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

He also said that the Works Ministry through the state Water Department had also approved the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction project in Kota Belud. It is under the state water supply development plan in the 12MP (2021-2025).

The project is aimed at addressing the problem of NRW in Kota Belud that is caused by leakages and water theft and at the same time improve supply to consumers, he said. — Borneo Post

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