Sabah opposition STAR wants the Musa-led governmet to cut off the excuses and just deliver water to rural Ranau villagers.
RANAU: The protest by four villages in Ranau last weekend over lack of piped water supply to the area has forced Sabah Water Department director, Awang Mohd Tahir Talip, to explain the government plans to overcome it.
But opposition State Reform Party (STAR) wants the state government led by Chief Minister Musa Aman to stop giving excuses and just fix the problem.
Taking a swipe at Awang Mohd, Ranau STAR head, Jalibin Paidi, said: “Fix the problem. Don’t just acknowledge it and cite every imaginable plan and pledge here and there.
“Treat this as urgent and don’t drag this to another election time just to make some more promises to the marginalised natives.”
Speaking to FMT, Jalibin said Awang Mohd’s response to the protest by villagers was typical of a static mind in resolving the water problems plaguing not only the four villages in Ranau but also thousands of others in the state.
In his comments carried by the local newspapers in Sabah yesterday, Awang Mohd said the problem affecting the villagers in the four kampungs was due to the inability of the existing 100mm pipeline to support current demand.
The department director also explained that the increased demand was due to increased consumption.
Jalibin, in response to Awang Mohd’s statement, said: “It is something that could be anticipated, please don’t make it an excuse.
“Don’t tell us that the officers and politicians just sit there and do their planning without taking into consideration future projection on demand and supply. We will die if they think this way.”
‘Don’t insult us’
Meanwhile, Awang Mohd, stung by the protest, accused the people of not being appreciative of the water they are now receiving for free.
But Jalibin said the director was deflecting criticism as in the first place the people wanted clean, treated water.
“This is an insult… please don’t say we should be thrifty because it is free water. We will pay our bill for clean, treated water,” said Jalibin.
Awang Mohd disclosed that RM100 million had been earmarked to upgrade the water supply system to Kundasang town and its surrounding areas.
However, he also said that the allocation and completion date are under a rolling plan that was implemented last year and would end in 2014 at the end of the 10th Malaysia Plan.
He said this means the villagers would have to bear with the situation as best as they could.
Besides transporting water by tankers, the department is looking at, as a short-term measure, installing a larger pipeline in Ranau to connect to other pipelines serving the district.
Villagers will have to wait until next month to see if clean water can reach the four kampungs with this stop-gap measure.
Jalibin said it was reprehensible that government authorities were toying with people’s lives and were only now coming out with plans after the people had organised a protest.
“The people I met in Ranau are tired of all these gimmicks whenever there is a problem. The water problem affecting Kampung Paka 1, Kibbas, Koporingan and Purak Ogis is not unique to us but found everywhere in Sabah.
“The state authorities should deliver results now and not deliver rhetoric to resolve our perennially most basic needs,” he said.
Last weekend, while Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was visiting Kota Kinabalu, a group of 60 representatives from four kampungs embarrassed the state government by staging a sit-in protest at Kampung Kibbas Tamu ground over false promises made during the last election to upgrade their quality of life.
They claimed the villagers had tolerated the lack of clean water for years, but things had gone from bad to worse when the only tank used to store water drawn from the Mesilau river was left to rot.
Ly J Sya Welliam, the spokesman for the group, said the tank could no longer store water and that many of ther about 3,000 residents in the four kampungs had been without clean water.
“We are forced to use rain water… some of us have to buy raw water and bring home every now and then for our domestic chores.
“Until when must we wait for clean water supply? It is almost 50 years of independence this month,” he told the crowd who were kept under police watch.