Don’t blame me for Sabah’s water woes, says Shafie

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal has strongly denied a claim by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Maximus Ongkili blaming him for the non-revenue water (NRW) problem in Sabah.

“I challenge him to repeat outside the Parliament what he has accused me of,” said the former rural and regional development minister at a ceramah in Sipitang.

He said Ongkili had similarly blamed the Selangor menteri besar for the water crisis there “when everyone knows who is behind the debacle”.

“In Sabah, anything goes wrong, it is Shafie’s fault. When it suits them, they lay the blame on others. It is outright ridiculous as all privatisation of water is handled by Ongkili’s ministry,” said Shafie.

Shafie said Ongkili should check with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Joseph Pairin Kitingan to find out whether the Sabah Water Department JANS is under the federal ministry or the state government.

“As far as I am concerned, the ministry is only responsible for providing the necessary infrastructure like pipes, but things like water meters and supply of treated water are the work of JANS and the state,” he added.

Shafie said under him, the rural ministry had successfully implemented water supply projects in Sabah such as building low-capacity water treatment plants in rural areas as well as the construction new reservoirs.

On Thursday, Ongkili blamed Shafie for failing to address the NRW problem despite getting huge allocations to the ministry.

He said that Sabah had the worst NRW situation and that RM171 million in grants was allocated to fix the problem.

“The problem in Sabah saw water leakages in residential areas going up to 52%,” Ongkili said in response to a question by Dr Azman Ismail (PKR-Kuala Kedah) in the Dewan Rakyat.

NRW refers to wastage of water due to old piping system and constant leakages.

Compared to Sabah, six other states facing issues of NRW required a much lower financial assistance to resolve them.

RM80.8 million was allocated to Perlis, RM48.7 million to Kedah, RM87.43 million (Pahang), RM69.63 million (Kelantan), RM70.74 million (Sarawak) and RM13 million (Labuan).