Water crisis in quake-hit Ranau eases

KOTA KINABALU - A 72-hour water crisis in Ranau has eased with engineers now focused on clearing a huge pile of debris clogging the Liwagu river following the June 5 Mount Kinabalu earthquake.

Water engineers have been able to restore at least 60 per cent of the water supply by restarting the disused water intake in Kg Kimolohing.

They are now working towards clearing debris at the main water intake at upstream Kg Bambangan where tonnes of uprooted trees and other debris have choked the intake point.

"Excavators have come in and our next move is to clear a path through the debris for the water to flow into our intake point so that we can start pumping water," Sabah Water Department deputy director Teo Chee Kong said.

Teo, who explained that the debris was stacked up about 130m upstream of the Liwagu river and clogging the Bambangan intake point, said they hoped to have it running by the weekend if the weather permittted.

The disrupted water intake point had since late Monday left nearly 100,000 people in the hilly district in the eastern ravines of Mount Kinabalu with a water crisis.

On Wednesday, dozens of water tankers from the army, water and fire departments rushed water supplies to the area while Sabahans across the state donated bottled water to those affected.

Teo said two mobile water treatment plants were being placed at Kg Sinarut Baru and in Ranau town to provide drinking water.

He said that currently they were able to produce eight million litres a day and had to reach between 13 million to 14 million litres to meet the needs of consumers in the district.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, in thanking people for their bottled water donations, said there was no longer a need for more donations as water supply was improving in Ranau.

Meanwhile, Science Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk Ewon Ebin said that the Minerals and Geosciences Department should conduct a study on the Tailings dam of the disused Mamut copper mine in Ranau to ensure it was safe as there were fears among the 20,000 people living in 40 villages of what could happen should a bigger quake hit.

In Petaling Jaya, Forces of Love and the Sabah Unity Friendship Association (SUFA ) have teamed up for the collection and delivery of mineral water and food to Ranau residents. A total of RM18,280 has been collected as of yesterday.

Forces of Love spokesperson Yee Lai Lin said the group's main objective was mainly the collection of cash via crowd funding.

"Collective purchase of mineral water via the factory is deployed via our project director Datuk Ku Chin Wah," she said.