Sabah mulls prepaid method to curb water theft

KOTA KINABALU: A system that would allow squatters to buy water via a prepaid method is being mulled by the Sabah government amid rampant water theft in the state that has resulted in losses amounting to RM180mil.Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said he had asked the Sabah Water Department to work out a prepaid system so that people in squatter colonies could have access to water without having to steal it through illegal connections.

“There will be no more excuses for the residents in such areas to break the pipes and steal water,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Bung was asked if the state government was considering imposing heavier penalties on water and electricity thieves, with the authorities carrying out a series of operations to disconnect illegal pipe lines to the squatters.

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

Bung noted that Sabah Electricity was also toying with the idea of using prepaid meters to overcome the problem of rampant power theft.

Bung, who is state Public Works Minister, said many locals were also living in squatter colonies.

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

During a recent crackdown on water theft, Sabah Water Department director Edward Lingkapo said most illegal connections were in squatter areas and on state reserve land.

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