KOTA KINABALU: The dry spell is causing more villages in Sabah to run out of water, with the number increasing by more than 100 in just two days.
State Natural Disaster Manage-ment Committee head of secretariat Kol Mulliadi Al Hamdi Ladin said the number of villages requiring water to be sent was 316 as at 8am yesterday, compared with 212 on Sunday.
He said the delivery of water by trucks was being handled jointly by the Water Department, Public Works Department, the Civil Defence Department and the respective district offices.
Kol Mulliadi said the northern Pitas district was among the most affected with 44 villages there requiring water to be sent, followed by Tuaran (40), Inanam in Kota Kinabalu (36) and Kota Belud with 25.
He told The Star that some 1,200 boxes of bottled water were ready to be shipped to drought-hit Pulau Banggi within the week.
Arrangements were also being made to send bottled water from Sabah’s northernmost town of Kudat to the island where folks from 16 kampung have made appeals.
Hundreds of Pulau Banggi villagers are now depending on a spring at the foothill of Bukit Serong, some 13km from the island’s main settlement of Karakit, for water.
The island’s water treatment plant was operating at 30% of its maximum capacity of two million litres per day due to a drop in river levels.
As the dry spell shows no sign of easing, other agencies including the Sabah Wildlife Department have taken preventive measures to stop forest and bush fires from breaking out.
Sabah Wildlife director William Baya said the department was temporarily freezing all hunting licences in the state.
“This is a precautionary measure to reduce the occurrence of forest fires that threaten the wildlife as well,” he said.
The likelihood of forest fires increases with the presence of people in the jungle for hunting, William added.
Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department director Nordin said they were getting up to 200 calls a day reporting bush and forest fires around the state.
“There are many bush fires. They are everywhere and we are doing our best to minimise the damage and prevent casualties,” he said.
The Air Quality Index, however, remained at a healthy level of 49 at 11am on Tuesday, the Department of the Environment reported on its website.
Sabah Meteorological Depart-ment acting director Lim Ze Hui said they expected below normal rainfall until the end of April.