Malaysia's biggest island, Pulau Banggi, pleads for help as water supply dries up

ROY GOH New Straits Times 23 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Residents of four main villages on Pulau Banggi, Malaysia's biggest island are at their wits end on how to source for water supply, as the heat wave persists nationwide.

Community leader Jimbo Juisali said there are about 50 villages on Banggi, which measures about 440 sq km, and most are badly affected by the hot and dry weather.

The four affected villages are the main township of Karakit, Perpaduan, Lok Tohog and Singgah Mata.

“Most villages still depend on wells and gravity system from water sources but four main villages linked with piped supply from the Pangkalan Darat treatment plant however are facing shortfall in supply.

“There’s still water at the plant’s reservoir and this is where transporters have helped deliver water to the villagers at RM20 per 400 gallon (1,500 litre) plastic tanks,” he said.

The plant is about 10km from Karakit where the main jetty is located.

Jimbo said some of the affected villagers also carry water from water sources on the island or get their supply from friends in other villages.

“There are wells on the four islands but all have dried up because the residents no longer ‘depend’ on them because of the piped water supply that was available since 2007,” he explained.

The water shortage has captured the attention of netizens, who have rallied for aid to be given to the islanders. The hashtag #BanggiWaterCrisis was trending on Twitter this morning.


Sabah island in dire straits
MICHELLE TAM The Star 24 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Villagers on Sabah’s Pulau Banggi, the largest island in Malaysia, are facing a water crisis that has stretched on for three weeks.

Among the most affected on the island, which is the size of Singa­pore, are the elderly, the disabled, children and dozens of primary school students

The children have to walk over a kilometre to and from their classes in sweltering weather on an island made worse by a lack of basic amenities.

Water is already expensive at RM20 per 1,000 litres. In comparison, the price in the peninsula for 1,000 litres is less than RM1.

Showers and washing are also deemed luxuries and many villagers opt to use unclean water from wells and ponds instead.

Desonny Tuzan, co-founder of the Beyond Pitas non-government organisation, has highlighted the villagers’ plight through a series of tweets using the hashtag #Banggi­WaterCrisis.

“The wells in Kg Palak in Pulau Banggi, Sabah, are drying up. There are three wells. One has a dead rat,” he tweeted yesterday.

For some, the nearest well can be up to a kilometre away.

Among those helping on the ground is Pastor Albert Adampai, 43, who has served the area under the Sidang Injil Borneo Church for over two years.

He said Felcra was supplying water to its workers in the area but the island’s main water tank has run dry, leaving villagers in dire need of clean treated water.

“The last two weeks were the worst. Whatever little water there was evaporated quickly because of the scorching sun,” he told The Star.

Without Good Samaritans like Albert, some elderly folk have to endure a 2km walk home daily under the weight of a 25-litre container.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said each district in the state had a disaster management committee chaired by the District Office and that it had been ordered to act accordingly.

In Kota Kinabalu, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said water shortages had hit various parts of Sabah, including Pekan Nabalu at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

He also said the authorities had begun sending water to people in the affected areas.

“There is also a high incidence of bush and forest fires that have affected our air quality.

“I would also like to remind people to be responsible and not to resort to open burning, which would worsen the haze,” he added.


Musa Aman: Sabah hit by water shortages
RUBEN SARIO The Star 23 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Water shortages have hit various parts of Sabah including Pekan Nabalu at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Musa said the ongoing El Nino-induced drought had also caused a water supply shortfall at Pulau Banggi and Pitas in northern Sabah as well as Pulau Sebatik in the east coast.

He added that the Water Department and other authorities have begun sending water to people in the affected areas, and that he had also directed the State Disaster Relief Committee headed by State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman to closely monitor and implement measures to overcome the water shortage.

Musa said in a statement late Wednesday that he had also reminded district Disaster Relief Committees to be alert and monitor the water supply situation in their respective areas.

He also reminded the public to conserve water in light of the dry spell that is expected to last till June.

"There is also a high incidence of bush and forest fires that has deteriorated our air quality. Therefore I would also like to remind people to be responsible and not to resort to open burning which would worsen the haze," said Musa.

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