Julaihi (front, second right) being briefed by Daniel (front, right) during the inspection on the burst-pipe site. Seen on the minister’s right is Dr Abdul Rahman. — Borneo Post Online pic
Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022 9:39 AM MYT
MIRI, June 21 — The prolonged water supply disruption in this city triggers a wake-up call for all relevant authorities.
In this regard, all monitoring units of the main water pipelines in Sarawak are instructed to undertake measures to detect potential problems early and take early pre-emptive steps.
In making this call, Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi said the monitoring units under the Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) and the management of the respective water boards should run regular checks to identify any potential leakage of pipes, some buried as deep as 2m underground, before it could snowball into a major disruption.
“Preventive and pre-emptive actions should be taken instead of ‘firefighting’ at the scene (of the problem),” he said in a press conference here yesterday, called after the inspection on the site of the dislocated water mains at Mile 7 of Miri-Bintulu Road.
Accompanying him were state Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin, Deputy Minister of Utility and Telecommunication II Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts I Datuk Sebastian Ting, Deputy Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Development I Datuk Rosey Yunus, as well as Laku Management Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Nelson Balang Rining and its chief executive Daniel Punang.
At the press conference, Julaihi also spoke about the long-term plan to replace the old main pipes in Miri and other parts of the state, pointing out that the burst 1,100mm-diameter pipes in the section of this city were already 30 years old, while the smaller ones (750 mm) were a decade older.
“The long-term plan is to connect northern and central Sarawak to Sarawak’s water grid system, which is currently being rolled out in southern Sarawak so that there could be alternative waters sources — akin to the state’s electricity grid.” Julaihi empathised with the consumers over the inconvenience and hardship that they had been facing since the water supply disruption began on June 16 due to dislocated pipes and the leakage caused by ground settlement.
Laku had struggled to restore the supply after the first attempt failed in rectifying the problem involving the old pipes, which had burst on June 9.
In a statement, it said it was targeting 90 per cent water supply restoration as it was gradually building up water pressure to normal levels. In the meantime, it had been sending water-tank trucks to the affected consumers on high grounds as well as those in the farthest end of the water supply distribution system.
It is reported that the situation has adversely impacted about 65,000 Mirians.
In this respect, Julaihi said a post-mortem would be conducted on this incident and in the long-term plan, Laku was eyeing to relocate the pipelines out of the Pan Borneo Highway layout to avoid any damage to the pipes.
“There is no compromise on this.
“Both the managements of Pan Borneo Highway project and the JKR (Public Works Department) have texted me about this — the relocation must be done without the risk of any major water supply disruption along this 80kmstretch,” he said.
Julaihi said there would be lessons to be drawn from this unfortunate incident after the post-mortem over this incident, said to be caused by soil settlement that led to the dislocation of pipes and the subsequent repairs works.
It was reported that Laku was overwhelmed by a surging demand for water delivery to the affected residential areas, prompting other authorities to come in and render their help including the Fire and Rescue Department, which had augmented all efforts to rectify the situation through the usage of their water-bearing trucks.
He also said in terms of restoration works and the delivery of water to the affected consumers, ‘all hands were on deck’.
“Laku and its contractor have been workinground the clock over the past five days; the pipeline repair works concluded at 3am on July 19, enabling Laku to proceed with testing, flushing and enabling water-pressure build-up in the distribution pipelines.
Meanwhile in his remarks, Lee said the response to the water crisis in Miri had been varied.
“On one hand, there were kind donors sourcing bottled water from as far as Sibu and Bintulu, to be distributed; on the other hand, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs had issued two summonses to offenders found profiteering on people’s misery.” On another matter, Lee proposed for the construction of high-level tanks at densely-populated residential areas.
“This can be a precautionary step, which can buffer the severity of water supply disruptions in the future,” he said. — Borneo Post Online