KOTA KINABALU: Basri Jawab has an apartment in Taman Puncak Manggatal near here where he lives with his wife and three young children.
The 43-year-old, who has a steady job as a building executive at a company here, would not typically be considered among the underprivileged.
But with the water supply crisis in Sabah, he cannot help but feel poor.
“Because of the water problem, I have to ‘mengemis’ (beg) for water from my neighbours or anyone who is kind enough,” he told The Star on Monday (April 17).
“In fact, many residents in my apartment complex feel the same. Just imagine, we have to beg for water when that is the most basic thing, especially for a place (Kota Kinabalu) with city status.
“The situation is frustrating and infuriating,” he added.
With the ongoing water woes of dry taps and low pressure making Ramadan an already trying experience, Basri is now dreading how conditions will be for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri later this week.
“Because water is limited, we only dare to cook simple meals for our sahur (pre-dawn meal) and buka puasa (breaking of fast).
“There is no water to wash many plates and utensils as we have to save it to clean ourselves and wash clothes. Even for this, the water supply is still not enough.
“We still look forward to Hari Raya but it comes with an unnecessary concern – will we have water or not?
"At the rate things are going, we have already conceded that we will not," he said.
Basri said water woes had gone from bad to worse over the last four years.
At present, he said, water was only supplied to Taman Puncak Manggatal, in the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency, from 5am to 7pm daily.
“To have water daily would be ideal but the reality is that unscheduled water rationing always happens where we live.
“Sometimes, there is no water for two to three days. And even if there is water supply from 5am to 7pm, it is not enough to cover all nine blocks here.
“We had to resort to buying bottles of mineral water just to meet our basic needs. But how much longer should we endure this?” he said.
Sabahans have been venting their frustrations over water problems on social media almost on a daily basis.
Residents in different parts of Sabah, particularly the state capital, have voiced their displeasure numerous times, such as those living in Kampung Suang Parai, also in Sepanggar.
They have appealed many times for the authorities and state government to resolve the issue.
Basri said he and his fellow residents tried to meet the Sabah Water Department in 2020 to seek its help but claimed they were turned away by its management.
“We have not (tried) to see them again because that experience left us thinking it would just be a waste of time and effort," he added.
On April 1, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya said there were no quick fixes for the water woes, saying the people, particularly in the west coast area, had to bear with water supply disruptions until two proposed dam projects were completed.
Shahelmey, who is also state Works Minister, said feasibility studies were recently conducted for the Papar Dam, about 40km south-west of the state capital, and Ulu Tomani in interior Sabah.
He said the completion of the Telibong 2 water treatment plant in Tamparuli, about 40km north of Kota Kinabalu, would help alleviate the water situation – but not fully.
He added that demand far outweighed the Water Department’s ability to supply water, and this was compounded by delays in the Telibong 2 and Kogopon water treatment plants.
Authorities have also blamed water thefts for the dry taps and low pressure.
Shahelmey had said the current mitigation measures include water rationing and distribution by tankers.