20/06/2024 06:32 PM

KOTA KINABALU, June 19 (Bernama) -- Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has instructed the Sabah Water Department (JANS) to invoke the laws under its purview and bring water thieves to court.

"Arrest them and charge them in court," he said in a statement after the Chief Minister's Department post-cabinet meeting today.

Similarly, he said factories found to be stealing water must be brought to court instead of merely issuing them with compounds.

Hajiji said stern actions must be taken against those stealing water because illegal connections have been identified as the main cause of the 60 per cent non-revenue water (NRW) in Sabah, the highest in the country.

He said the State Cabinet had called up JANS for a briefing following a rally held by a group of protesters, including Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students, demanding that the water issues be resolved.

Hajiji also said the State Cabinet was briefed that during the past two months, UMS only experienced water disruption that lasted one or two days due to burst pipes, adding that during the period, JANS supplied between four million to seven million litres of water daily to UMS, in addition to one million litres of water provided by the well tube. 

"I have asked the UMS vice chancellor to look into the matter to find out the reason for the water not reaching the students," he said.

According to Hajiji, the State Cabinet was told that water supply to UMS became scarce due to the many illegal connections detected from five villages located behind UMS, which is on disputed land between the settlers and the land owners.

"That is why I want the Water Department enforcement to go and disconnect these illegal connections. Apart from that, take stern action against the culprits," he said.

"Perhaps, the Water Department could install a 500-litre tank at the site and charge the people there for the water. This will prevent them from reconnecting illegally to the water mains," he said, adding that the Sabah government's responsibility is to supply water, of which various efforts have been made for that purpose.

He said such efforts included the Telibong II Water Treatment Plant, which can provide an additional 160 mld (million litres per day) to the northern part of Sabah, including UMS and its surrounding area, once the installation of water pipes is completed.

Apart from that, works to boost water supply on the southern part of the West Coast that would benefit people in Papar, Lok Kawi and Putatan have already started eight months ago and are expected to be completed by 2026, he added.




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