Longhouse chief refutes claims of dirty river
BINTULU: The longhouse chief of Rumah Ado, Sg Kakus Tatau yesterday refuted claims that the longhouse residents were forced to turn to the polluted Kakus river as their source of drinking water and for cooking.
The Punan village, located 80km from Bintulu, has been affected by an acute water shortage caused by a defective pipeline connecting it to the main source in Sungai Mepesak.
Ado Bilong, 56, was referring to claims carried by a national daily that the water shortage had forced residents of the longhouse to use water from the river which is polluted by floating toilets and logging activities.
The longhouse with more than 1,000 residents was rebuilt by the government after it was burnt down in 2008.
“After our longhouse was burnt down, the entire pipeline system was destroyed. Nevertheless, we have received assistance from the government and a local logging company operating nearby to rebuild the system.
“The claim made by Suing Sati which appeared in a national daily that the longhouse had no piped water after a fire destroyed more than half of the longhouse in 2008 was incorrect.
“If it is true, how have we been living and where have we been drinking from if we just depend on water from the river?” asked Ado who was accompanied by her husband Bugang Sati, the longhouse security and development committee chairman in charge of the pipeline system.
She stressed that the residents still had ample supply of water especially for cooking although they had to take their bath in the river occasionally.
She said most residents now collect rainwater using storage tanks donated by the logging company and the government.
The only thing that disrupted their plans to find a solution to the problem, she said was the lack of cooperation among the residents who refused to work on a ‘gotong-royong’ to repair the pipeline which is located some 7km up Sg Mepesak.
Not daunted, she said a meeting with all the residents and community leaders would be arranged again to sort out the problem and ask for their cooperation.
She pointed out that the logging company, Pustaka-KTS (PKTS), had given them lots of assistance in terms of rebuilding the longhouse and supply of other necessities like water tanks to lighten their burden after the fire mishap.
Commenting on the river which Suing claimed as not fit for human consumption and use because of pollution, she said it wasn’t true.
“With boats plying the river daily, small amount of oil floating on the river cannot be avoided.”
She denied any large amount of diesel floating in the water caused by logging activities.
Bugang meanwhile said: “It is not a matter of insufficient fund to repair the pipes, but the residents must work together to repair them because we all share the same water supply.”
Currently the longhouse folk depend on rainwater which they collect in storage tanks pending the completion of the pipeline by KTS.
“Once it is repaired, I believe the longhouse folk will no longer experience water shortage, but one thing for sure, we must work together as a team and not just blame other people.”
To date, 65 family units in the new longhouse have been completed, with each given a water tank.
“If possible we hope to get some assistance from the government and local companies nearby to ease our burden in repairing the pipes,” he added.
Chairman of Parent-Teacher Association of SRK Rumah Keseng Lim Meng Chai also denied that there was water shortage in the school as he had not been informed by the headmaster about the problem.
He said if it truly happened, government agencies must take immediate action to resolve it.