KOTA KINABALU: A two-hour downpour on Saturday in parts of Sabah’s west coast failed to reach the Trus Madi forest reserve where fires are still burning, and northern Pulau Banggi where some islanders have resorted to using drain water.
Banggi islander Salma Marail said some desperate villagers had resorted to getting water from the drain near Kampung Batu Layar.
It is where animals like cattle come to drink.
She said Saturday’s rainfall over the state’s west coast did not reach Banggi, although the sky was cloudy.
Despite assurances that 3,000 cartons of bottled water were being shipped from the northern Kudat town to Banggi, Salma said many islanders had yet to see any of them.
Fellow islander Jailani Badri said getting water was becoming difficult as hundreds of people queued daily at the single spring in Kampung Timbang Dayang.
“There is a well near the Esscom base in Karakit but the water level there is too low to collect at times,” he said.
A Sabah Water Department official said it would be sending 30,000 litres of water by boat from Kudat to Banggi, beginning today.
“We are keeping a close watch on the weather situation and hoping that Banggi will receive some of the rainfall, as forecast for Sabah’s northern region over the next two to three days,” he added.
The Banggi water treatment plant with a production capacity of two million litres per day was shut down on Friday after the island’s only river that was its water source ran dry.
In a related development, Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said fires spanning some 2,000ha were still burning at the Trus Madi forest reserve, about 70km south-east of the city.
There was too little rain over Trus Madi to make any difference, he said yesterday.
He said firemen and Forest Department rangers were still working around the clock to extinguish the patches of fires at the 185,000ha forest reserve near the Keningau and Tambunan districts.
Mannan said department personnel were also on the lookout for arsonists who could have started the fires in the forest reserve. Fortunately, the Saturday afternoon downpour had doused much of the peat swamp fires at the Binsuluk forest near the west coast reserve, he added.