Monday, June 14

Dry spell causes water, transportation woes for Baram longhouses


Ronny Kayan

MARUDI: Several longhouses along the Tutoh River and in Linei, Baram River have been affected by drought for nearly a month.

The absence of rainfall in the area has left the rivers very shallow, impacting the villagers’ water supply and transportation.

“The Tutoh River is very shallow and cannot be passed by big boats or motorboats. Only small boats can travel through the shallow waters. But the problem during this season is the shortage of clean water for drinking,” complained fisherman Simon Ajun from Kampung Batu Belah.

“All this while we’ve very much depended on rainwater, though we have the piped water from the water catchment area at our village, this has turned brown and has a bad smell.”

Simon pointed out that the shallow water has meant it is also very difficult to fish.

“The fish cannot be hooked at the moment. Now I just sell local snails only,” he said.

Photo shows the increasingly shallow Apoh River in front of Long Bemang longhouse.

In Long Panai, it is now possible to swim across the normally imposing Tutoh River due to the very low water level.

“The Apoh River now is very shallow and navigable only by small boats to go to our farms and orchards,” said Long Bemang villager Ronny Kayan.

Retired headmaster Raymond Lagang from Long Linei Bukit said the Linei River is totally impassable due to the drought.

“The only mode of transport now is by land transport. Luckily, right now Linei can be reached by land,” he said.

Raymond also expressed his concern that the longhouse has no water supply for consumption and continues to rely on rainwater.

He called on the authorities concerned to supply the village with bottled water because many villagers could not afford to buy their own supply.