Sepanggar villagers want authorities to deal with water theft sternly

KOTA KINABALU: Fed up with the continuous water theft in a village in Sepanggar near here, residents have resorted to staging a peaceful demonstration calling for stern and concrete action to be taken.

The villagers of Kampung Suang Parai said the issue of water theft has plagued them for many years, with authorities including the Water Department only taking reactive short-term measures.

Ali Saptu Durasit, 62, who has been living in Kg Contoh Suang Parai since 1999, claimed that the thieves would easily reconnect the pipes after authorities disconnected them.

“We’ve lodged numerous complaints and the action taken by the authorities would always be to disconnect the illegal piping systems,” he said when contacted.

“This is a recurring problem and it just goes on and on, without a permanent solution. We are tired of paying bills for water that we did not use,” he said, adding that some 200 homes in the village were affected.

Ali said the presence of such illegal connections also caused water disruptions and low pressure for their daily usage.

He said apart from water theft, the villagers also faced electricity theft and other crimes committed by suspicious squatters in their midst.

“We are talking about our rights, our safety and our money. Please do something,” he said.

Ali said the villagers lodged a police report on Saturday (March 18).

Sabah Works Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya said a special enforcement unit had been assigned to handle the matter and efforts to eradicate water theft were ongoing.

“We’ve had continuous disconnection operations and will go on until the problem is solved,” he said when contacted.

He said the Water Department is trying to minimise the recurrence of water thefts in the area and that constant monitoring was being done.

Shahelmey said it was also vital for integrated operations to be carried out with enforcement agencies such as the police and Immigration Department to effectively tackle the issue.

He assured villagers that state authorities have not stopped looking for ways to solve the problem.

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