Bottled water to be distributed to drought-hit Pulau Banggi

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are underway to send bottled drinking water to Sabah’s northern Pulau Banggi which has been hit by water shortages due to the El Nino induced drought.

State Natural Disaster Management Committee head of secretariat Kol Mulliadi Al Hamdi Ladin said that district officials in Kudat were working with NGOs to distribute supplies of bottled water to the island which has a population of 20,000 living in 18 kampungs.

"Logistically, we will only be able to send in the bottled waters through normal boat transport and place it at various collection centres," he said, hoping that efforts would be completed at soonest possible time.

Kol Mulliadi said they have already delivered bottled water to the Sebatik island in east coast Tawau which was also facing water shortages due to the dry spell.

However, officials in Kudat are claiming that the situation at the 447sq km Banggi island was not as critical as made out in social media though there was a general water shortage on the island.

When contacted, Kudat district officer Sapdin Ibrahim said that it was not yet critical as the water treatment plant continued to produce about 30% of its full capacity of 2mil litres daily.

"They are still able to cope with the treated water while some kampung folks were relying on gravity water feeds,’’ he said, adding that arrangements would be made to send water supplies from the mainland by barge if the situation warrants.

Meanwhile, Kol Mulliadi said that they have been sending water tankers to 212 kampungs in 18 districts but are waiting for fresh reports from district offices following Monday’s rain.

Moderate showers lasting between three to five hours were experienced over many parts of Sabah’s west coast, interior Keningau, Tongod and Tawau early Friday.

Sabah Meteorological Services Department acting director Lim Ze Hui, however, said that the rains was not yet a sign to the end of the prolonged El Nino induced dry spell that has hit across the state over the last two months.

Lim said that the relief was just temporary though they forecasted more rain in view of the approaching inter-monsoon season towards the end of March and beginning of April.

The dry spell has triggered bush, orchard and jungle fires in many areas as well as damaged crops and creating water shortages to hundreds of villages relying on traditional water sources from rivers and wells.