KOTA KINABALU: Bottled water is being rushed into the nation’s northern-most island of Banggi, which has been hit hard by the prolonged El Nino-induced dry spell.
The precious cargo is scheduled to reach Banggi today, a day after the island’s water treatment plant was shut down as the river there ran completely dry.
Kudat district officer Sapdin Ibrahim said 3,000 cartons of bottled water were being sent in from Kudat town to Banggi by boat.
“This will be a start in the continuous supply of bottled water to Banggi,” he told The Star.
He said the island’s hospital at the main settlement of Karakit would be given priority in the supply of the bottled water.
Each family in the five villages with piped water will receive three cartons of bottled water.
Sapdin said families in other villages on the island would receive one carton of water for now.
Asked about a proposal to send water by barge, he said it was too costly as a return trip would cost about RM30,000.
“We found that it would be cheaper to send the bottled water by boat,” he said, adding that his office, the Water Department, NGOs and Banggi state assemblyman Datuk Abdul Mijul Unaini were also helping in the logistics.
There are 18 villages in Banggi with a population 10,000, according to Sapdin.
Banggi islander Asni Madin said a spring near Kampung Timbang Dayang remained the sole water source for them but it was fast drying up.
“Just to fill a 10-litre container takes more than an hour. That is how little the flow is and so many people are depending on that spring, including those from other islands,” she said.
Asni, a former teacher, said islanders who could afford it were buying water from Karakit.
Those who have to go to Kudat were buying crates of mineral water to bring back with them on the ferry, she said.