BELAWAI: Villagers in Kampung Belawai are crying foul over the shortage of piped water which has been affecting the daily lives of several hundred Malay-Melanaus for the past two months.
Kampung Belawai is a coastal fishing village situated about 30km from Tanjong Manis town in Mukah Division. The village is now accessible by road from Sibu via the recently completed 88km Sibu-Tanjong Manis Highway which takes about one-and-a-half hours’ drive.
A tuck shop owner who only wanted to be identified as Kak Usu described the situation as acute.
“It is seriously affecting my business. Everyday, I don’t even have enough clean water to prepare food and drinks for my customers,” Kak Usu complained.
She added that the water shortage had also affected Muslims performing their daily prayers.
“It is a normal practice that before we pray, we wash our hands and feet with clean water. Now we have to use water from the well which is not hygenic enough.”
She said people in the village had been given different versions of explaination on the stortage.
“Some say it is due to pipe leakage, some say the pump is not functioning while others say water is being controlled. The villagers do not know the real reason,” she lamented.
She is worried that if the problem persists, the villagers would have a tough time celebrating Hari Raya, which is at the end of August.
Opposite Usu’s tuck shop, Anthony Wis, 58, was sitting on a stool waiting to fill up his plastic pails and basins.
Wis said the water pressure was very low and it took a long time just to collect enough water for cooking and drinking.
“The water can’t go up to the upper floor. It is so troublesome spending hours everyday to collect water,” he said, adding that his family had to use water from the well for washing and bathing.
He said he did not know when water would be available from the pipe so he just left the taps on the whole day.
“Sometimes it comes in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Most afternoons and evenings, the taps are dry,” said the retired employee of Tanjung Manis Development Sdn Bhd.
Another villager Hanif Zok, 47, told The Star the same story. He said apparently not enough effort had been made by the authorities to solve the water woes.
“During the election campaign last month, we already informed the government this problem. Until now there seems to be no solution and we are always in the dark over the actual situation,” Zok said.
He said there were many wells in the village but they were unreliable as they dry up during prolonged drought.
“To save us the trouble of spending hours collecting water everyday, we want the government to give us big water tanks to store water,” said the fisherman.
Belawai, which was part of Sarikei Division, became part of Mukah when the Mukah Division was formed on March 1, 2002. However water supply still comes under the jurisdiction of the Sarikei Public Works Department (PWD).
Efforts to find out more on the situation from Sarikei PWD were futile as several calls to the office and the divisional engineer went unanswered.