State engaging expert to look into long-term water supply issue

Liwan (2nd right) poses with (from left) Jennyvee, Chang and Tay.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 27: The state government has engaged a local-based consultant to carry out a study on water issues in Sarawak to meet the needs of the people in the long run.

Assistant Minister for Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang said the study aspires to provide clean and treated water to the majority population by 2025.

On the mid-term measure, the state has allocated RM2.8 billion under its “Projek Rakyat” initiative to provide water supply to water stressed areas, targeted to be completed by next year.

“There are about 370 water projects, which are under various stages of implementation throughout the state. All these projects are implemented under open tender,” Liwan told a press conference here, yesterday.

The state government decided to come up with the budget from its own coffer as the allocation was not forthcoming from the federal government, he added.

“Water, electricity and roads are under the responsibility of the federal government. As we cannot get fund from Putrajaya after the last general election (May 2018), many projects being slowed down.

“That’s why we cannot wait and the state has to come with RM2.8 billion,” he continued.

Liwan admitted the daunting task faced by the state government to connect water to all the rural communities in Sarawak, as there were areas that are not connected by road, thus prohibiting the water mains to reach them.

“It’s not easy to get 100 per cent water connectivity because some of the rural communities are not accessible by road. At the same time, the Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) is facing limited funding to bring water supply to these remote places.”

For remote places, Liwan said the state will use the Sawas (Sarawak Alternative Water Supply) initiative to connect the area with water supply, as long as road connectivity is available.

“If there are roads, water pipes can go. If there is no road, then it is difficult for us to provide water,” he explained.

Currently, there are 90 water treatment plants of various capacities under JBALB, which covers the rural areas in Sarawak.

In the urban areas, the water supply is under various water authorities such as the Kuching Water Board, Sibu Water Board and Laku Management Sdn Bhd in the northern region.

On a separate note, Liwan raised concern on the rampant vandalism of the water supply facilities in the rural areas and appealed for public cooperation to ensure no disruption of water supply.

JBALB director Chang Kuet Shian, Betong Division engineer Tay Chiaw Teck and corporate communications officer Jennyvee Jenai were present. — DayakDaily