Sabah to get tough on water theft

Hajiji leaving the meeting at Menara Kinabalu on June 19.

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor wants those who steal water to be prosecuted as the Sabah government tries to clamp down on non-revenue water (NRW).

The Chief Minister said he has instructed the state Water Department to invoke the laws under its purview and drag culprits to court.

“Arrest them and charge them,” he said during the Chief Minister's Department post-cabinet meeting here on Wednesday (June 19).

“Similarly, we want factories found stealing water to be brought to court instead of merely issuing compounds," he added.

It was imperative for stern action against those stealing water, he added.

“Illegal connections have been identified as the main cause for the 60% NRW in Sabah, which is the highest in the country,” he said.

NRW refers to treated water that is lost before it reaches consumers.

On the water protest on Friday (June 14) led by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students, he said the Water Department had been called up to brief the state cabinet on the matter.

Hajiji said they were informed that, during the past two months, UMS only experienced water outages for one or two days because of burst pipes.

He added that water supply to UMS was between four million and seven million litres a day (MLD) coupled with the tube well that could supply one MLD.

“I have asked the UMS vice-chancellor to find out the reason for the water not reaching the students,” he said.

He added that numerous illegal connections had been detected in five villagers near the university.

“That is why I want the department’s enforcement team to cut these illegal connections.

“Apart from that, take stern action against the culprits," Hajiji said.

He also suggested that the department install a 500-litre tank at the site and charge the villagers for the water.

“This will prevent them from connecting illegally to the water mains," he said.

In response to the Opposition’s claims, Hajiji said the state government has made various efforts to ensure water is supplied to the people.

Among others, he said, the Telibong II Water Treatment Plant has been completed and was now awaiting the installation of piping.

Once completed, it would be able to provide an additional 160 MLD to cater for the northern part of Sabah, including UMS, and its surrounding areas.

Besides that, Hajiji said, works to boost water supply on the southern part of the state’s west coast started eight months ago and are expected to be completed by 2026.

Hajiji said this would benefit the people in the Papar, Lok Kawi and Putatan areas.

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