KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has terminated 58 concessions for water treatment after claiming the 20-year agreements the companies signed were lopsided.
Speaking at a press conference today, Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony said the concessions were awarded to six companies by the previous state government.
They have until Jan 15 to pack up and leave. Contractors are allowed to claim payment for works that cost more than RM5,000.
At the same time, he said the department will absorb all the 1,335 employees affected although their terms of employment, including the duration of their contract, will be reviewed.
The other legal aspects of the case will be handled by the state attorney-general, he said.
Under the agreements, the concessionaires were paid RM3.7 billion to oversee and manage 58 water treatment plants and dams for a period of 20 years.
Anthony said the government will now go after water thieves as they have been blamed for water shortages.
“There are quite a number of private companies taking advantage of the distance of water treatment plants to housing or commercial areas.
“They illegally pump water into tanks and resell them to other companies.
“We know this is going on. We are warning those involved in this business to stop before we go after them.”
Commenting on continued water shortage woes in areas such as Beaufort and Kuala Penyu, Anthony said the department is currently in the midst of redesigning water pumps to solve the problem.
He said weather problems have worsened the problem as there is not enough water intake to supply water to the districts.
He said the immediate solution to this problem is for consumers to take their own initiative to store water.
“For our part, we will identify which areas are in dire need of water supply and send help through the Water Department,” he said.