KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s water and power woes took centre stage in the state assembly with lawmakers pressing the state government to resolve the issues effectively.
Each assemblyman who took part in the debate yesterday raised basic infrastructure issues, including that of the road conditions.
Leading the chorus was Senallang assemblyman Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who said the state’s perennial water supply problem had worsened, also affecting city and town areas instead of just rural locations.
“Now even areas like Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran, which is the Chief Minister’s (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) own area, are affected,” the former chief minister said when debating the motion of thanks on the policy address by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri on Monday.
“When we raise these issues, they must be addressed, we can’t just be waiting for Kuala Lumpur to resolve them. We have never heard about water supply problems in Sarawak or Brunei,” said Shafie, who is the Parti Warisan president.
At this juncture, Telupid assemblyman (GRS-Parti Bersatu Sabah) Jonnybone J. Kurum asked Shafie what issues he identified when the latter served as federal Rural and Regional Development Minister.
“There were many, I have said before... corruption. Monopoly is another,” Shafie responded.
“We should appoint contractors that have the capabilities to overcome the issue, there should not be any monopoly. We should reform (the state’s water management),” he added.
Shafie urged the state not to allow the Federal Government to take over the state’s water management even if it accepted financial assistance from Putrajaya.
Sindumin assemblyman (GRS-Gagasan Rakyat) Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said the present water management structure needed change, adding that the 2016 Sabah Water Department scandal case, which is being tried in court, had further demoralised its employees.
“In conclusion, we have failed to manage water supply. It is about time we emulate the water management in developed countries like Singapore, or even look at Selangor.
“For rural communities, the rainwater harvesting system must be implemented and given bigger funding,” he added.
On power, Dr Yusof said supply was an issue due to the need for approval from the Energy Commission to build power stations in the state.
He said this predicament would be resolved when Sabah has its own energy commission next year.
“The government needs to take steps to invest heavily through its own GLCs or through joint ventures with foreign investors,” he said, asking what were Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd’s (SESB) plans for the problem.
Nominated assemblyman (GRS-PAS) Dr Aliakbar Gulasan said the state government needed to come up with a policy quickly to manage squatter colonies.
“According to data from the State Local Government and Housing Ministry, there are 169 squatter colonies in Sabah, involving some 24,000 homes.
“There must be a policy on this matter. If not, (water and power) problems will persist,” he said.