By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Jan 19: The Sarawak government has no plan to raise water tariff rates, assured Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
“Our focus now is the state water supply coverage and to provide quality water supply services to all Sarawakians. Once that is achieved, only then we will look into the appropriate tariffs,” Dr Rundi told DayakDaily today.
He added that in order to ensure water supply services in Sarawak were well established, the state government would be looking at options such as charging “surcharge” for exceeding normal usage.
“This is to avoid wastage and to promote and educate the people of the importance of water conservation and also to standardise the tariffs for treated water throughout the state.”
Dr Rundi stressed that his ministry would get feedback from all stakeholders on the best option to be adopted by his ministry to ensure that the choice would be the best deal for Sarawakians.
“But I would also like to assure our people that we will not be hasty in implementing new tariffs, as we still have to bring the matter up for discussion during the state cabinet meeting.”
According to Dr Rundi, domestic users in rural Sarawak are actually enjoying water supply subsidies from the Sarawak government, where the average cost of water production for one cubic metre (1m3) of treated water is RM1.40, while the average water tariff paid by consumers is RM0.62.
“The Sarawak government will continue improving water supply services in Sarawak, wherein a total of RM2.8 billion of additional budget has been allocated by the state government in its effort to improve the water supply in areas that are facing water supply problems.”
Dr Rundi also disclosed that the last review of water tariffs involving small towns in Sarawak was in 1984, while for major towns and cities such as in Kuching and Sibu, the Kuching Water Board (KWB) and the Sibu Water Board (SWB) last raised their tariffs in 1992. As for Bintulu, it was last reviewed in 1995. — DayakDaily