Health authorities monitoring water supply in Sabah after Sandakan salty water issue

KOTA KINABALU: Health authorities in Sabah are keeping a close watch on the water supply statewide after the salty water issue in the east coast Sandakan district.

State Health director Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin said samples from the water pipes in various districts were taken and tested weekly for chemical properties or other possible contamination.

While the results of these test samples were still pending, she added, there have been no cases of contamination reported in other districts so far apart from Sandakan.

“So far, there have not been any reports of cases in other districts besides Sandakan.

“We will continue to monitor the water supplies (statewide) to ensure the safety of all Sabahans," she said during an event here on Monday (March 13).

Towards this end, Dr Rose advised the public to only consume tap water after boiling it, adding that people should refrain from drinking water that was dirty.

On March 7, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya said the Sabah Water Department was looking at resolving the issue in a month.

Shahelmey, who is also the state Works Minister, said a special team has been tasked to resolve the problem that was triggered after sea water infiltrated the Segaliud river water intake point in late November 2022.

The Sandakan salty water issue has been the bane of residents in the district which has prompted calls from Sandakan MP Vivian Wong as well as Elopura assemblyman Calvin Chong for the Sabah Water Department director to step down.

It had been reported earlier that the gate at the Segaliud River had been damaged, causing seawater to infiltrate the holding dam in the area.

This has resulted in the unusually high salinity level in the local water supply.

The Sandakan Water Department had lodged a police report in December last year after they discovered that the river gate was damaged and cables stolen at the Segaliud River.

They are waiting for the replacement parts which had been ordered from overseas.

On a separate issue, Dr Rose said the Health Ministry will continue to upgrade hospitals throughout Sabah, with the process having already started with the Duchess of Kent Hospital in Sandakan as well as the Tawau Hospital.

She said the upgrading works were in progress to elevate their levels to that of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the state capital.

She added that the ministry was also assessing the resources needed by these and other hospitals in the state such as specialists and equipment according to the budget allocated.

“In the Beaufort hospital, for example, we have already begun placement of specialists.

“But we have to implement the process in phases, depending on the resources available,” Dr Rose said.

She added that the obstetric and gynaecology ward in Beaufort Hospital had started operating in January this year.

“There is also a need to upgrade operating rooms in hospitals in Sabah as many of them are decades-old and the equipment have to be replaced or rooms repaired.

“We are also planning to construct more operating rooms.

“For example, we have plans to add two more to the Tuaran Hospital (in addition to the existing two),” she said, adding this will, however, take some time due to various factors.

One of those factors, Dr Rose said, was that they had to train new staff including medical experts and doctors so they could conduct proper surgeries for the safety of patients.

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