Dry taps, no water tanks compound misery of 30 longhouses

Wong (in yellow shirt) accompanied 10 Tuai Rumah to a meeting with JBALB Sarikei over water issues affecting some 30 longhouses.

SIBU, July 29: Over 30 longhouses along Mile 10 to 16 of the KJD Road near here have suffered from water shortages for years because even though water taps were installed, they were for show only as there was no water supply due to very low water pressure.

In addition, no water tanks and halted planned pipe laying works due to the Pan Borneo Highway’s way leave issue also compounded their problems and dilemmas.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Dudong chief Wong Ching Yong, together with 10 Tuai Rumah who represented the longhouses in the areas, visited the Sarikei Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) yesterday (July 28) to raise and discuss the matter.

Wong pointed out that the water taps installed in the affected longhouses exist in name only as there was no water supply due to severe low water pressure which the residents have had to endure for days or even weeks.

“Therefore, they need the water tanks to store water for their daily activities like cooking, washing, drinking and bathing but were told that they were not qualified to apply (for the tanks) because their longhouses have been installed with water taps and pipes.

“So even though JBALB could transport water to their longhouses, there are no water tanks to store the water,” he disclosed in a press release today.

Wong (left) taking down information during a meeting with JBALB Sarikei over water issues at Mile 10 to 16 KDJ Road.

Unfortunately, Wong added, the residents cannot rely on rivers as a water supply source because the rivers were polluted with fertiliser and chemical run-offs from surrounding palm oil plantations.

“The JBALB Sarikei eventually agreed to transport water to the longhouses as an emergency plan to relieve the miseries suffered by the people in the longhouses,” he added.

Thus, Wong said he will visit the Resident Office again to discuss the supply of water tanks to these longhouses.

“I will also write to the Ministry of Utilities to request the reviewing of the application for water tanks from longhouses policy,” he added.

Wong and the Tuai Rumah were also briefed about the ongoing long-term solution to solve low water pressure in the area which involved laying new pumping main pipes, and constructing booster pump stations and a reservoir along KJD Road.

“However, the pipe laying works cannot proceed due to the Pan Borneo Highway’s way leave problems.

“JBALB Sarikei still has not received the greenlight from the Pan Borneo contractor and JKR (Public Works Department) to instruct the contractor to commence laying the water pipes, and constructing booster pumps station and a reservoir,” he explained.

Wong also learnt that all the water pipes had already arrived at the site but commencement of works was pending approval from JKR headquarters.

“For this, I will also write to the Ministry of Utilities and Ministry of Infrastructure Development to highlight this administrative issue,” he added.