By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, May 7: The Sarawak government has given the Ministry of Utilities RM5.1 billion for the provision of treated water and electricity in the state.
Its minister, Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said out of the total amount, RM2.8 billion was to address water supply in stressed areas or Project Rakyat, while the rest for electricity connectivity.
In terms of electricity provision, he said presently, there was 91 per cent coverage, while state government aimed to reach 97 per cent coverage by two years’ time. It is anticipated that the last three per cent would be most difficult to achieve.
On water supply, Dr Rundi explained that water stress is defined as areas facing frequent interruption due to pipe bursts, uneven distribution, ageing piping, low water pressure and overcapacity due to consumer increase.
Dr Rundi said his ministry had been committed to solving water problems across the state within two-and-a-half years.
Project Rakyat comprises 324 projects, in which 49 projects have been completed and commissioned, 142 projects are under construction, totalling 191 projects costing almost RM2 billion.
“It (RM2.8 billion) is not enough. In fact, we need RM3.1 billion,” said Dr Rundi at a press conference on the sidelines of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) today.
Besides improving and upgrading existing water supply systems in water-stressed areas, he said his office was also implementing the Sarawak Alternative Rural Water Supply (Sawas) programme to provide safe and reliable water to the remote and isolated communities of Sarawak that cannot be connected to the existing water supply systems.
“For a start, five pilot packages at Ulu Pandan, Long Seridan/Long Peluan/Kalampun, Lubok Antu/Kpg Belantak, Nanga Semah and Kampung Penası/Muara Lebaan have been completed.
“The plants are now already supplying safe and potable water to 572 households with a total population of 2,860,” said Dr Rundi during his winding-up speech.
Under the next phase of Sawas programme, 56 projects are proposed with an estimated total cost of RM135 million.
“These projects are located in remote villages throughout the state,” said Dr Rundi.
With the increasing demand for safe water supply and its sustainability, there is an urgent need to protect and conserve Sarawak’s raw water sources. Thus, there is a need to gazette more water catchment areas.
“In this regard, my ministry is in the process to gazette another 54 water catchment areas to protect and conserve our water catchments,” he said. — DayakDaily