Dry tap: It’s a miserable Gawai for longhouse folks of Ulu Sg Assan, Ulu Naman

Wong visiting Rumah Monica Gelima Ubong, Sibu during June 1, 2023.

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SIBU, June 3: Longhouses in Ulu Sungai Assan and Ulu Raman are suffering from serious water shortage issues, especially during the festive season, including this Gawai Dayak.

Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) deputy chairman Wong Ching Yong, who is also Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Dudong chief, said longhouses at Ulu Sungai Assan have been suffering from water shortage caused by insufficient water pressure since 2020 due to the construction of Pan Borneo Highway. 

“For the last three years, be it Gawai, Christmas, and other festivals, they (the residents) were facing serious water shortage. 

“Many longhouse folks had complained to me that one could not imagine (how it was like) without water. They could not cook, wash clothes, or shower. So this Gawai festival, to them, was, to say the least, quite miserable,” said Wong in a press statement.

He said last year, Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) sent water trucks to deliver water supply to these longhouses so it was still possible to celebrate the festival. 

However, the water shortage was particularly serious this year when villages started to request that water be sent to Ulu Sungai Assan one week before Gawai.

Apart from residents of Ulu Sungai Assan, longhouse folk of Ulu Naman also sought help from him, requesting water trucks.

“From the response of the longhouse on June 1, it seemed that the water supply problem in the Dudong area is very serious.

“One tuai rumah (longhouse chief) told me they had to buy mineral water to cook and wash dishes. The bottled mineral water was used to wipe their bodies as the weather was unbearably hot,” said Wong, who visited longhouses in Dudong on the first day of Gawai.

On June 1, Wong led the SUPP Dudong branch leaders, councillors, and community leaders to visit Dudong for the Gawai celebration.

Wong said after Gawai, he will send an official request to the Minister of Utilities, Datuk Julaihi Narawi, with the hope that some measures may be taken to improve the serious water shortage problem in Ulu Sg Assan and Ulu Naman, which brought hardship to the residents for the last three years. — DayakDaily