Water shortage could have been avoided if dam built as planned, says PBS

The site proposed by the state government for the Papar Dam.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has continued to question Warisan’s plan to construct a dam in the Papar district instead of the Kaiduan Dam proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

PBS vice-president Johnny Mositun said he was not against construction of the dam but urged the government to build it at the original location to minimise its impact on the environment.

He also took aim at BN, saying the prolonged dry spell in Sabah would not be a cause for concern if the previous government had managed to build the Kaiduan Dam a decade ago.

“The dam would have been able to store as much as 175 million cubic metres of water, ensuring enough water supply not only for the Papar district but also Kota Kinabalu, Tuaran, Penampang, Putatan and other nearby districts for the next 30 years.

“The current state government has now realised the importance of this dam. That is why they are going ahead with it,” he said.

But he said Warisan should build the dam according to the previous government’s plan after getting an updated environmental impact assessment report.

“Previously, there were NGOs that protested against the dam. Many of them are now part of the government. I hope now, they understand why the dam is needed and disseminate the information to the NGOs they were once a part of,” he said.

He added that PBS would support the state government, maintaining however that it should build the dam at the original site, where it can store more water and affect fewer people.

Several districts in Sabah have been hit by low water pressure, prompting the water department to impose water rationing in those areas.

Papar, a lowland district, was one of the worst hit after saline intrusion forced the department to close down one of the three emergency water supply schemes.

As a result, the district is facing a water shortage of 10 million litres per day, with water supplied to villages using water tanks.

The Sabah government had called on Sabahans to use water prudently and warned that in some areas, including Kota Kinabalu, the current stock may last only two months.

The ongoing dry spell is expected to continue until April, but there are concerns that the situation will last beyond May following a report by the World Meteorological Organisation predicting a 60% occurrence of weak El Nino in May.

Sabah last suffered the effect of El Nino in 2016, receiving little or no rain for almost six months that year.