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‘Asbestos-based cement water pipes to be replaced’

Rintos Mail, reporters@theborneopost.com

KUCHING: All  asbestos-based cement water pipes being used in Kuching will gradually be replaced, said Assistant Minister for Public Utilities (Water Supply) Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn.

He said according to a study, most of the water pipelines containing asbestos cement in Kuching Division had been under the ground for decades and starting to wear out.

“There is already a plan to replace all the worn out asbestos pipes in Kuching. Our ministry has bid for the funding from the Federal Government and once we have the fund we will begin with the upgrading works,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Sagah said to replace the worn out pipes in Kuching alone would be a major exercise.

“We estimate that to replace all of the asbestos cement pipelines is in the order of RM700 million,” he said.

He, however, said the authorities  might not be able to replace all the pipelines at one time adding that the implementation would depend on the availability of funds.

It is believed that hundreds of thousands of asbestos pipelines around Kuching are now over 40 years old.

Sagah said old asbestos cement pipes were one of the major causes of underground leak and burst problem, and caused water interruptions.

He said the asbestos cement pipes  would be replaced with either metal or high density polyethylene (HDPE).

Until the worn out asbestos cement pipelines are replaced, he said the authority might have to control the water pressure in certain areas.

When told some villagers in Siburan were still experiencing frequent water interruptions and only little stream of water coming out from the taps, he said the state Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) was aware of the problem.

He said the department had been responding to the leakage and burst problems swiftly and were always monitoring the situation in the area from time to time.

He reiterated that worn out asbestos cement pipeline was the major cause, saying they could no longer hold high pressure.

“The pressure there has to be controlled. If the pressure is increased, the old asbestos cement pipes may just break or bust, which then will cause water supply interruption,” he said.

He said replacing of the old asbestos cement piping in some of the villages in Siburan, including in Kampung Masaan was already in the plan.