Water woes threaten to derail CNY celebrations for Ranau residents

Villagers sourcing water from a water truck at one of the affected villages in Ranau.

KOTA KINABALU: Ranau resident Wisiah Ng wants nothing more than to celebrate Chinese New Year with her family but a water shortage in the district is threatening to derail her plans.

A landslide at a village in the hilly district, about 100km from here, last Friday broke the main pipe at Kampung Kibbas. This disrupted water intake at a treatment plant.

This subsequently cut off the supply to the town area and at least eight villages.

Those affected have been relying mostly on water trucks sent by the Water Department.

While water supply to all areas is expected to return soon, Ng is still worried about what the future holds if the water supply system is not upgraded.

Her village, Kampung Mininsalu, about 1km from Ranau town, is one of the areas affected.

Kindergarten teacher Wisiah Ng.

“We are running out of water that we stored in our tank. Fortunately, our neighbours were kind enough to share water they obtained from the water trucks.

“I hope the water will be back soon because it is quite inconvenient getting water from the trucks because everyone is scrambling for it.

“Chinese New Year is practically here but we are short of water. This is the fifth day without tap water,” the mother of three told FMT today.

Ng said most of her neighbours had given up waiting for water and gone elsewhere to celebrate the new year.

She said it was the norm among Ranau residents to expect water disruption whenever there is a downpour.

“The water will get murky and the department has to shut down the water plant to clean the debris. The people here are used to this.

“But we hope there are plans to improve the water supply system as we can’t keep on living like this,” said the 36-year-old kindergarten teacher.

Another Ranau resident, Joel Darryl Joseph, whose Kampung Lukapon is also affected, doesn’t celebrate Chinese New Year but felt sorry for those who did.

“I can only imagine what those celebrating are feeling. For my family, besides the emergency supply from the Water Department now, we have also been getting water from a nearby village that relies on a gravity system for water.

“But I can say this is the longest we have gone without treated tap water since the earthquake in 2015,” said the 36-year-old farmer.

Repair works ongoing

State Water Department director Amarjit Singh said the repair work is going well and expected water supply to the affected areas to resume by midnight tonight.

PKR’s Ranau MP Jonathan Yassin said some 3,000 houses had been without water since Friday.

“I think about 6,000 people are affected. We managed to get four lorries to supply water.

“Hopefully, the supply will be back to normal by tonight,” he said.

Karanaan assemblyman Masidi Manjun said incessant rain last week led to the landslide that damaged the water intake pipe.

“That cut the water supply to the treatment plant. The Water Department is still conducting major repairs,” he said.

Paginatan assemblyman Abidin Madingkir, one of those affected, said all the water intakes would not be shut down after heavy rain.

“The department will only close the intakes that need to be cleaned of wood debris,” he said, adding there are four main water intakes in Ranau.

Sabah Assistant Finance Minister Kenny Chua recently said the government was repairing water pipelines all around the state.

“Give us time because a lot of repairs need to be done. We also need to fix roads, the drainage and flood mitigation measures,” he said.