Malaysia: SOS as rivers dry up in Sarawak

STEPHEN THEN The Star 5 Feb 16;

MIRI: The worsening El Nino phenomenon is causing havoc on water supplies in some regions of Sarawak.

Rivers that were once raging are drying up and this is causing serious water shortage in settlements and schools that are totally dependent on rainwater and riverwater for cooking, drinking and other daily use.

In the Bakelalan highlands of northernmost Sarawak, it has not rained for the past two months.

Yesterday, an SOS was sent out on behalf of some 2,000-odd villagers who were now without clean water, said Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) deputy president Datuk Nelson Balang Rining.

Balang, who is SPDP chairman for the Bakelalan division, said he sent out the SOS to the Public Works Department, appealing for immediate assistance.

“My SPDP Bakelalan divisional office has received appeals from people living in the middle and upper reaches of the Bakelalan highlands who are facing water shortage due to the current dry spell.

“I visited Long Sukang and the surrounding areas over the weekend and found several rivers drying up.

“Among the people affected are children of three schools, namely SK Long Sukang, SK Long Semadoh and SK Bakelalan.

“At least 2,000 villagers from numerous settlements are facing critical water problems daily.

“Very soon, there will be no water for drinking. I have already spoken to state JKR director Zuraimi Saki and he has promised to look into the issue.

“He said he will inform JKR in Limbang and Lawas on how to coordinate immediate assistance to the affected population,” he said.

Balang added that his office will assist JKR and the other relevant authorities to help the affected people by providing manpower and logistic support to deploy emergency water supply from the JKR treatment plant in Lawas.

The Star contacted Zuraimi at the JKR headquarters in Kuching and he said they would treat the situation with utmost urgency.

“I am alerting my DE (divisional engineer) in Limbang to look into this right away.

“We will look into how to deploy emergency supply of water to the affected population,” he said.

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