Village chief: We finally have clean treated water after 80 years

Zakaria Lasit

By Nancy Nais

GEDONG, Dec 16: Villagers of Kampung Lubok Punggor has been living without clean and treated water for over 80 years, but that harsh reality has come to an end.

Today, they finally have access the basic necessity through the Rural Water Supply Project (JBALB).

The event was launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is also Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) candidate for N26 Gedong.

The project, under the Rural Development Ministry, was completed in October this year and will benefit some 323 households in Gedong area, including this village, Kampung Bangka Semong, Lubok Buntin, Tanjung Sap and Kampung Benat Hilir.

Abang Johari (centre) testing the newly-connected treated water supply in Kampung Lubok Punggor, Gedong.

Kampung Lubok Punggor village chief Zakaria Lasit told DayakDaily that this village was founded back in 1938.

Since the existence of this village, he said they have never had nor enjoyed clean and treated water, even after more than 60 years of independence.

Currently, there are 582 villagers occupying 151 houses here.

“Two years ago, when I was elected as village chief, I was told by former Gedong assemblyman Datuk Naroden Majais who is also the incumbent, that this issue has gotten the attention of Abang Johari and the state government is working on it.

“Today, we are extremely grateful to Abang Johari and the Sarawak government for granting our wish.

“From now on, we can finally enjoy the feeling of having clean water around the clock. Before this, we had to use river or rainwater, regardless if it is clean or not. We did not have a choice,” Zakaria said.

In terms of agriculture, he shared that his fellow villagers were miserable because their produce such as vegetables and paddy fields were badly affected due to the broken water-gate at the river’s mouth.

Now that they have piped water, he hoped they can mitigate this issue later on.

Earlier today, Abang Johari had instructed Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to set up an internet centre for online learning in Kampung Lubok Punggor.

Thanking Abang Johari for his concern and listening to the grievance of parents, Zakaria said throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, students in the village had not attended physical school for almost two years.

“Online learning is not an option due to lack of internet access and this has caused a lot of problems for us and our children. Sometimes, due to urgency such as exams, we had to bring our children to Samarahan or Kuching and search for a place where they can have access. This is very difficult.

“With this internet centre, our children don’t have to travel to study. Hopefully it comes with a reliable internet connection as well,” Zakari said, adding that SMA was told to build the centre as soon as possible, before the new school term begins in about two weeks.

Abang Johari had suggested that the internet centre will be situated at the village rest house, just next to the public library and primary school, for easy access. — DayakDaily