Monday, May 27

Merging water authorities

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Sarawak government mulls creating a single body to manage, regulate water supply

(From left) Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa, Dr Rundi and Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang looking at Dr Rundi’s ministerial winding-up speech at the DUN building complex yesterday. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: Sarawak government plans to consolidate the regional water authorities into one entity to improve the administration and management of treated water supply in Sarawak.

This was disclosed by Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi but he said it could not be done immediately because the water management agencies in Sarawak were ‘born at random’.

“We have Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), Kuching Water Board (KWB), Sibu Water Board (SWB) and LAKU Management Sdn Bhd.

“Now, we are waiting for the newly established JBALB to grow.

“Once it has grown, we hope the agencies will come under one entity,” he told a press conference at DUN media centre after delivering his winding-up speech yesterday.

Dr Rundi said his ministry would be using Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) as its benchmark in consolidating the water authorities into one entity although he admitted it would be very challenging to attain SEB standard.

Asked when it would materialise, he said since all agencies were already established, JBALB should be given some time to catch up and be on a level-playing field so that they would be able to synchronise the mergers.

“In our plan, it’s not as soon as you think. It’s not going to be in two or three years’ time.

“I think may be in the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025), then we  may be able to become one body.

“This will go along with our Water Supply Master Plan and Water Grid study,” he said.

Earlier in his winding-up speech, Dr Rundi said a consultant had been commissioned in May last year to carry out the Water Supply Master Plan and Water Grid study.

He said the study is in progress and will take 18 months to complete.

The third interim report had been finalised for submission, he added.