Penampang community leaders question water disruption


Kenneth Jayaraman

KOTA KINABALU (Oct 9): Three community leaders in Penampang yesterday issued a statement voicing out their concerns on the scheduled disruption of water supply for two weeks beginning October 11.

The notice on the disruption of water supply which was issued by the state Water Department said that maintenance works at the Moyog Water Treatment Plant will be conducted from Oct 11 to Oct 26 and the exercise would affect consumers in Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan.

Chairman of Ikatan NGO and committee member of Parti Warisan (Warisan) Penampang division, Kenneth Jayaraman, said that he understands that maintenance work on the water treatment plant is necessary but wanted to know what the work would entail.

“I don’t deny the importance of maintenance works to ensure the optimal performance of the treatment plant, more so with the series of floodings in Penampang this year that caused the Moyog River to be filled with debris and mud that will then flow into the pumps of the treatment plant.

“But what is confusing here is that we do not know whether this maintenance work will also involve the repair and replacement of assets under the Sabah Water Department such as old pipes and so forth. If the maintenance only involves cleaning the water treatment plant, then this two-week period is unreasonable,” he stressed.

Jenifer Lasimbang

Former Moyog assemblywoman Jenifer Lasimbang was of the opinion that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-Barisan Nasional (GRS-BN) cabinet ministers should show empathy to the rakyat affected and have the conscience as the long maintenance period would only invite unnecessary problems to hundreds of thousands of residents in the three districts especially for the elderly and disabled, while those living in high-rise apartments and condominiums will certainly experience a water crisis because the water supply is fully controlled by the relevant housing management company.

“What about the hundreds of coffee shop operators, restaurants and food processing factories that need a clean and consistent water supply? It must be highlighted that this announcement on the interruption of clean water supply might cause residents of these three districts to start panic buying of bottled mineral water at retail stores and so on.

“Now who will be blamed when this ‘mass panic buying’ happens? Will the GRS-BN ministers just stand and laugh at such a situation or do something about it?” the former assistant minister said.

Jenifer pointed out that as the matter involved public interest and accountable administration, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor should come forward and provide specific information to the residents of the three affected districts of what are the maintenance works that will be implemented in the specific plant which requires two weeks to complete.

“I also urge the Chief Minister to state what proactive measures have been prepared by the GRS-BN Government to deal with this water supply problem apart from issuing earlier announcements and advising users to save water.

“This is because whenever scheduled maintenance works are carried out at water treatment plants in Selangor, the authority concerned which is Air Selangor will provide dozens of water tankers to reduce the impact of water supply disruptions to affected water users and avoid ‘mass panic buying’,” she claimed.

Batholomew Jingulam

Meanwhile Warisan Penampang committee member Batholomew Jingulam pointed out that after the major flooding in Kg Sugud last year, which made everyone realize just how serious the problems caused by past decades of uncontrolled development in the Penampang district were, the leadership of the Parti Warisan Division of Penampang had requested dredging works for Moyog River to be carried out immediately.

“I think that if the deepening of the Moyog River is not carried out immediately, then the maintenance work at the Moyog Water Treatment Plant will be in vain because ‘water run-offs’ (water flow) from high areas will still have silt and clay that will flow into the river, especially now during the monsoon change we are experiencing,” said Batholomew.