Sabah considers offering water and electricity to squatters via prepaid method to dissuade theft

KOTA KINABALU: A system to allow for squatters to buy water via a prepaid method is being mulled by the Sabah government amid millions of ringgit lost in water thefts at such settlements across the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said he has asked the Sabah Water Department to work out a prepaid system for people in squatter colonies to buy water without having to steal it through illegal connections.

Bung said water being supplied to such squatter colonies would put an end to water thefts through illegal connections.

"There will be no more excuses for the residents in such areas to break our pipes and steal water," he told reporters here on Saturday (Jan 29).

He said that currently, the Water Department was losing substantial revenue from water thefts.

Bung was asked if the state government was considering imposing heavier penalties to water and power thieves with the department carrying out a series of operations to disconnect the illegal pipelines to the squatters.

The Water Department and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd were not allowed to provide their services to any housing area that was not gazetted by the state government as a residential, business premise or village.

Bung said that Sabah Electricity was also considering using prepaid metres to overcome the problem of rampant power thefts which the water department could also consider.

Bung, who was state Public Works Minister, said squatter colonies included many locals also living in such areas.

"It’s difficult to say whether we can or cannot supply water to squatters," he added.

During a recent crackdown against water theft, Sabah Water Department director Edward Lingkapo said the state lost about RM180mil to water thefts and most illegal connections were in squatter areas as well as on state reserve land.

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