CM: Water a potential tradable commodity for Sarawak in the future

Abang Johari (left) and other distinguished guests give their thumbs up after performing the the groundbreaking ceremony for LAKU head office. Photo credit: Information Department Sarawak

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By Karen Bong

MIRI, Aug 18: Water could become another tradable commodity for Sarawak in the future as physical connecting works are underway to get the State Water Grid system up by 2025.

Additionally, a bill to amend the Water Ordinance to corporatise the water supply is expected to be tabled in the upcoming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting, which will allow the creation of a single water supply authority to manage the State’s water supply system.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that with the system in place and good management, there could be an excess of water, which in turn could be shared with other neighboring regions, including Kalimantan, Indonesia and Sabah which are now buying electricity from Sarawak.

“The water and electricity supply infrastructure and issues are targeted to be resolved entirely by 2025.

“With the State Water Grid ready, it will become a commodity and the tariff will be determined by the State government just like electricity as we do not want to burden the people,” he said when launching the groundbreaking ceremony of Miri Laku head office and handing over of Northern Hill Reservoir to Laku Management Sdn Bhd here today.

As plans are underway to bring the three water development authorities in the southern, central and northern regions of Sarawak under one umbrella body just like Sarawak Energy, Abang Johari added that this meant the management will have its own central data system to monitor the water supply network.

“This will enable them to deal with problems such as pipe bursts immediately as the faults can be identified and located via the central data system which will have a comprehensive (engineering) plan of the water piping system embedded throughout Sarawak.

“The data will be compiled in the central data zone including billing, faulty parts and so on will be included,” he explained.

On the amendment bill that will pave the way for the corporatisation of water supply in Sarawak, Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom revealed that it will include a new water billing system under a single entity.

“With that, we can focus on managing the water supply as a whole as it will become a very relevant commodity in the future, given that green hydrogen (has been identified as one of the) renewable energy sources, hydro power and so on,” he said.

Rundi stressed that the Ministry is committed to increasing water reliability and capacity in the State by ensuring all physical infrastructures are in place and upgraded, and will address issues in water stressed areas and improve water supply services, especially in rural areas.

“As water supply has been identified as the enabler to propel Sarawak into a high income State under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS), we will work hard to ensure a tip top water supply system to efficiently deliver water to consumers.

“All these will be boosted by the new command centre where we can monitor any water-related problems in the State without having to receive negative feedback from consumers. It is very sophisticated and impressive. Laku is also coming up with their command centres for Miri and Bintulu,” he added.

Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Assistant minister of Utilities (Rural Electricity) Datuk Liwang Lagang, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, Deputy DUN Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Miri City Council Mayor Adam Yii, LAKU Management chairman Datuk Nelson Balang Rining and Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) director Ir Chang Kuet Shin were among those present. — DayakDaily