KOTA KINABALU: Police have confirmed that a series of burst pipe incidents which affected thousands of consumers in the city last December was due to sabotage.
City police chief Habibi Majinji said they were looking for two men in connection with the case, adding that the duo was spotted travelling in a white Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive vehicle.
No arrest has been made so far but police have since interviewed several people who claimed to have seen the duo.
“The eyewitnesses saw the men going around in a private vehicle in a housing area in Luyang here during the daytime. They were suspicious as one of the men was seen carrying tools like hammers and other piping equipment,” he said.
Habibi said police believe the water disruption occurred shortly after the suspects were sighted in the housing area, adding the Sabah Water Department had lodged a report over the burst pipes.
He urged those with information pertaining to the burst pipes to contact the authorities.
Thousands of water consumers were affected the weekend before Christmas last year after mysterious incidents involving burst pipes and water valves were reported around the city.
This came just a day after the government announced it had terminated 58 concessions for water treatment, involving six water contractors, on Friday.
Sabah Water Department director Amarjit Singh said he could not be sure whether these incidents had anything to do with the termination of these contracts.
He said the water department had lodged a police report and had left it to the police to investigate these incidents.
Amarjit said the first complaint about broken pipes, along Jalan Sulaman, near Likas, was received on Dec 22 . This affected supply to the heavily populated Kingfisher area there.
“This involved a 700mm pipe. Soon after, we received another complaint of burst pipes along Jalan Sulaman, but we suspect this was due to construction work being carried out there,” he said.
The following night, the department received complaints that areas such as Luyang had no water supply.
He said they were surprised to find an offtake valve in a monsoon drain had been shut down.
On Dec 21, the Sabah government announced it had terminated 58 concessions for water treatment after claiming the 20-year agreements the companies had signed were lopsided.
State Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony said the concessions were awarded by the previous state government.
Anthony said the department would absorb all the 1,335 employees affected but their terms of employment, including the duration of their contract, would be reviewed.
Under the agreements, the concessionaires were paid RM3.7 billion to oversee and manage the 58 water treatment plants and dams for 20 years.