After 10 years, Sabah villages still without clean water

Until now, there have been no solutions to Kuala Penyu’s water problem. (File pic)

KOTA KINABALU: The state water department has been instructed to manually deliver 50,000 litres of clean water every two days to each of the seven villages in the Kuala Penyu district, about 110km from here.

State Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony said he was shocked to learn that some 350 families living in these villages had not been receiving clean water through their taps for almost 10 years now.

“This action plan must be put in place immediately. The villagers are in dire need of clean water for them to cook, drink and enjoy their daily lives. The problem has been going on for five or 10 years in some villages.

“All this while, the previous government has been pointing fingers at one another for solutions or just waiting for funds that never came,” he said after being briefed by the Beaufort water department today.

Anthony said there had been proposals for projects from the rural and regional development ministry and the state government to resolve the water problem in Kuala Penyu.

Unfortunately, he said, many of these projects were not implemented.

He said low pressure due to problems with water pumps also meant that water did not reach some remote villages.

“This manual distribution of water using trucks will continue until we find a permanent solution to the problem. I believe we need to build more water treatment plants nearby and finally connect all water pipes to homes.”

He said the department would also need to buck up, adding that he saw many water trucks at the office, none of which appeared to be put to use.

“I was told it’s because there are no drivers for the trucks. This is an unacceptable excuse. If there are no drivers, then find some. It is that easy to resolve, how come nobody thought of it?”

Meanwhile, water department director Wilis Ansoi rubbished allegations of hanky-panky in the construction of the water treatment plants serving Kuala Penyu and Beaufort areas.

During the height of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigation into alleged corruption in the department in 2016, some had called for the graft-busters to look at water treatment plants in the districts as well, claiming the plants were under-designed for their purposes.

“Actually, all these plants were built quite some time ago when the population was low. At the time, they could serve the population adequately. However, the population has increased exponentially since then and the plants can no longer cater for the needs now,” he told FMT.

He said the Lumbawang water treatment plant in Beaufort would need to be expanded or, alternatively, a new plant could be built next to the existing one.