Dry taps at Sabah teachers’ quarters over unpaid water bill

A resident using a pipe attached to a tank fitted on his pick-up truck to supply water to his unit at the teachers’ quarters in Kota Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Water Department was forced to disconnect water supply at a teachers’ quarters in Bukit Padang here after the district education office failed to settle its RM700,000 arrears.

The arrears were accumulated over a two-year period from April 2017.

Speaking at a press conference here today, Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony said the Sabah Water Department had no choice but to take drastic action in its attempt to recover the debt.

“If we had not done that, the department would be seen as inefficient and ineffective.

“In another way, it would tarnish the image of the ministry,” he said today after witnessing the signing of an MoU between the Water Department and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to provide training to pipe-fitters in Sabah.

The quarters house more than 1,000 people, living in 17 housing blocks.

The water connection to the area was cut off more than a week ago. This forced the residents to buy water and install water tanks for their everyday use.

Anthony also said other than the teachers’ quarters, the Water Department also disconnected water supply to a school in Sandakan over an unpaid bill of some RM20,000.

Peter Anthony (centre) after witnessing the MoU between the Sabah Water Department and CIDB.

However, he said the department is ready to discuss the issue with those affected and find ways to solve their problem.

“They can actually pay by instalments if they cannot afford to pay the bills in full. We have taken note of this issue and will resolve the problems as soon as possible.”

He insisted that the department did not have any other choice on the matter except to terminate service if efforts to recover the money were unsuccessful.

“We even cut off water supply to the chief minister’s house once,” he said without revealing when this happened.

“The law requires us to do so in case bills are not paid for a long time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anthony said Sabah will not increase its water tariff despite six other states in the country deciding to do so.

He said the decision was made after considering the interests of the people, who will be badly hit if the tariff is increased.

“The current tariff will remain for now until the chief minister decides otherwise,” he said.