RANAU - Sabah is working round the clock to remove tonnes of debris, uprooted trees, rocks and boulders that are clogging up two water intake points on Sungai Liwagu.
The blockage caused a temporary shutdown of a water treatment plant serving Ranau, which has a population of 100,000.
Ranau Water Department engineer Anthony Jullah said they were still assessing the situation and hoped to start clearing the debris at the first intake point in a bid to ease the water crisis in Ranau district.
Government engineers and private contractors are studying the quickest way to remove thousands of uprooted trees, rocks and boulders at the two water intake points since Tuesday.
The task is made more challenging on account of bad weather that had led to mudslides along the mountain slopes and strong river currents.
"Our immediate focus is to unclog the Kg Bambagan intake point," said Anthony.
"I can't give a deadline as to when we can expect to see all the blockages at upper Sungai Liwagu cleared, but we will try to get water production back to at least 60 per cent by Friday (today).
"It really depends on the weather and the extent of the clogging," he said, adding that there was a massive pile of debris in Kg Kimolohing in the lower reaches of the mountain.
With the state government requesting for the army's assistance to speed up the removal of debris, the authorities are also wary of more mudslides.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who was briefed on the situation and other problems including acute water shortage in Ranau, said efforts were being made to send fresh water to the affected villages.
While tanker loads of water from the army, state departments and non-governmental organisations have arrived in Ranau town, the supply has yet to reach most of the villagers in the district.
As of yesterday, some 40,000 cartons of bottled water donated by people from around Sabah have been sent to Ranau.
Many shops in Kota Kinabalu are running out of bottled water as people are buying them in bulk to donate to the victims in Ranau.
About 700 people, mainly from Kg Mesilau, Kundasang, which is at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, remain at relief centres amid fears of more landslips occurring in the area after one house was destroyed during a landslip.