KOTA KINABALU: The muddy Moyog River flow due to hill cutting activities for development in Upper Moyog area has impacted villagers who depend on the river for their daily water supply in place of the gravity water which has run dry.
An estimated 700 over villagers have been affected by the unhealthy river condition after the district council of Penampang failed to respond to numerous complaints made by the villagers, Village Development and Security Committee head as well as a few government agencies.
A spokesperson for Gerakan Belia Upper Moyog (GBUM), Lynlie Lanai, said the muddy river had caused a lot of hardship for the Penampang people, particularly the communities in Moyog, Babagon, Pogunon and Madsiang who not only rely on the river for their daily water resource but also as their source of income.
According to Lynlie, who lives at the Babagon Tagal River, many households were forced to drink the muddy river water as it is the only source of water available after their gravity water supply dried up due to the current drought.
She added that local restaurant operators near the Babagon Tagal river suffered the most as their main source of income had been jeopardised following the declining number of visitors going there for picnic and recreation activities.
The Tagal river used to attract many visitors all the way from Beaufort, Papar, Kota Kinabalu, Inanam, Menggatal, Telipok and even as far as Sipitang. The cold and beautiful clean water had normally received more than 300 visitors during the weekends.
The number has since reduced to less than 100 visitors for the past few months as many visitors left the place after realising the river’s water condition was no longer suitable for cooling off in the hot weather brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.
Lynlie was aware that the Water Department had also made a number of complaints to the Penampang District Council as the water quality is very poor, prompting the department to stop pumping water into their treatment plant. However, there has been no action taken against the culprit, who is rumoured to be a political party leader.
“I am pleading to the local authority to take appropriate action against the land owners who did the hill cutting. The district council should investigate whether such permit was given to the land owner to carry out those ‘damaging’ activities.
“Such investigation must also look into whether an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study has been carried out before permit for development can be be granted to the owner,” stressed Lynlie, adding that the Environmental Department must also be made aware of such devastating activity.
Lynlie said that the hill cutting activities, which have been going on actively for many years, has also caused the Moyog River to be shallow unlike during the 70s. This condition had also affected the water supply to west coast residents during dry spell as the river did not have enough water to be pumped into the water treatment plant in Kasigui.
The hill cutting was finally stopped by the new District Officer, Luvita Koisun last year. However, the order stands only during monsoon season. When it rains, the loose earth will flow into the river, making it very shallow and muddy.
“I hope the district council along with other relevant government agencies can work out a comprehensive mechanism to curb this problem. The Tagal river concept will be heavily jeopardised if the situation continues.
“Please look into our problem and help us control the damage before Moyog River becomes meaningless to Penampang and its surrounding areas. The river is the source of our water supply. Do not allow it to be destroyed,” said Lynlie.