Wednesday, September 28

Water pledge falls way flat


Claim of dry taps ending with Gawai shattered as Simunjan now in worse grip of drought

KUCHING: The tall claims of Assistant Minister of Resource Planning Datuk Naroden Majais on April 16, that Simunjan folk would be finally free from water woes with their Gawai celebrations (June 1), have fallen flat – as residents are in fact facing a water crisis.

Their plight was highlighted by The Borneo Post yesterday with residents “crying foul”, saying that the entire Simunjan area had been experiencing acute water shortage since last month and the problem worsened when the authorities concerned failed to attend to their plight.

With news from Simunjan – a water truck was sent to Kpg Sageng but which apparently benefited only a few households – of their taps running again by 6pm yesterday, The Borneo Post called some local residents.

Mdm Chuo, a sundry shop owner, sighed with relief as she answered the phone, “Yes, the tap is now running with water and I am using all my containers to keep as much water as possible.”

After suffering three days without water, Chuo said she had no idea when the tap would run dry, and said “I’ve got to run”, frantic to hang up in case the cold shower ended in a trickle.

Cikgu Wan also confirmed that the tap was running at 6pm after three days of dry taps but he was not optimistic that the taps would be running consistently.

Fikri, a young businessman, 24 said, “It (water shortage) is critical. It has been so for two months in the past three years. Today I turned on the tap and I was lucky to have water, tomorrow the tap may be dry and I do not know about the next day.”

Responding to The Borneo Post story, the Public Works Department (PWD) said its department is taking a five-pronged approach to address the current water woes in Simunjan due mainly to the prolonged drought.

State PWD director Zuraimi Sabki disclosed that the solution taken by his department was for both immediate needs and for long term.

The five-pronged approach is as follows:

• water rationing has been imposed since June 5. Hours of piped supply is now reduced to 2 hours daily for Simunjan Town and nearby areas.

• for the various kampong areas far from Simunjan town, treated water will be transported by water tankers from Asajaya to the drought affected areas, this exercise started from June 6;

• getting raw water to the Simunjan water treatment plant from nearby Sg Melanjok as no other alternative raw water source can be located in the vicinity;

• supplement treated water from Slabi water treatment plant to supply 8MLD (million litres per day) via Rassau Tank (5.7MLD to Gedong & Semongkoi and 2.3MLD to Simunjan);

• and lastly, to increase pumping capacity from Slabi water treatment plant to Rassau Tank (to increase current pumping capacity at Slabi water treatment plant from the current 37MLD to 45MLD by next Monday – June 16).

Zuraimi also explained that the Simunjan water treatment plant normally operates 24 hours with the capacity of 5.0 MLD, to supply fully treated water to 2,500 metered connections.

“The Simunjan water supply is badly affected by the recent prolonged drought. The Lepong Dam which is the source of raw water has a yield capacity of 220 million litres at the maximum water level of 6.8 metres.

“The water level has dropped to 1 metre, with the lowest level recorded at 0.3 m. This has caused acute shortage of treated water supply to all areas in the immediate area,” Zuraimi said in a press statement here yesterday.

Zuraimi also assured that PWD Samarahan was monitoring closely the situation and any queries may be referred to the office at tel: 082-672800 (office hours 8am-5pm).

Meanwhile, Datuk Naroden Majais, who is Simunjan assemblyman and now currently on official duty to Kazakhstan (as Assistant Minister of Resource Planning), hoped the high level water tank could be installed at Gedong so that water from the Slabi water treatment plant can reach Simunjan.

He added that the water mains to connect water from Gedong to Simunjan have been finished across the nearly completed Sg Sageng Bridge. The bridge is expected to be completed by end of July.