By Member of Parliament for P. 172 Kota Kinabalu Chan Foong Hin
KOTA KINABALU: Yesterday afternoon, I had taken time out in between Chinese New Year functions to meet up with the management of Marina Court near Kota Kinabalu city centre, and after the meeting, I then had a courtesy call on the newly appointed Deputy Chief Minister III cum State Minister of Infrastructure Development, *Datuk Ir. Shahelmey Yahya* to discuss the issue of the increasingly serious water shortage in the Kota Kinabalu area.
The management of Marina Court had contacted me last week and informed me that in the past three months, they had to incur an additional cost of RM50,000.00 per month to purchase water just to deal with the dry taps from the erratic supply of water from the water department.
In the meeting with the management corporation’s chairman Datuk Chong Hon Len today, I learned that Marina Court is at the very tail end of the water supply infrastructure in central Kota Kinabalu. This certainly exacerbated matters for them.
After the meeting, I then led my team and representatives of Marina Court management headed by Datuk Chong to pay a visit Shahelmy to discuss the matter with a view to resolve the water shortage issue.
This meeting with *Shahelmey* was arranged a few days ago and he was well aware of the main purpose of our visit. His ministry’s permanent secretary, the director of the Sabah State Water Department, and also the Kota Kinabalu district engineer from Sabah State Water Department were present during the meeting. Everyone had spoken frankly and discussed the issue of water shortage in Kota Kinabalu.
During the meeting, the Sabah State Water Department informed parties that the short-to-medium-term resolution of the water shortage issue would be with the Telibong 2 water treatment plant which is expected to start operating from April 2023. This water treatment plant will increase the existing water supply to Kota Kinabalu by 20% and relieve the water shortage in the northern part of Kota Kinabalu (Sepanggar).
In addition, the Sabah State Water Department is also actively carrying out projects to reduce NRW (non-revenue water, water that has been produced but is “lost” before it reaches the consumer through leaks or through theft or metering inaccuracies) in the Kota Kinabalu Central District (city center). This move is estimated to be enough to meet Kota Kinabalu’s water demand and resolve the issue of shortage of water for two or three years.
However in the long run, the Sabah State Water Department’s long-term plan to resolve the water shortage issue is to build the Penampang/Papar Dam to store more raw water to be supplied to the people. This is the exact same dam that many NGOs had opposed previously as lands would be flooded.
Regarding this point, I had interjected and suggested that the minister convene a roundtable meeting between all the ADUNs and MPs in the Greater Kota Kinabalu District to discuss this dam proposal before proceeding to decide on whether to proceed with the construction of the dam.
I emphasized that it is important to come to a consensus on how to deal with the water shortage, with or without the dam. Without any consensus and agreement from all parties, it is going to be useless to continue talking about the dams as a long term solution as the government will once again face the issue of repeated opposition to the construction of the dams.