Dept to focus on three areas

KUCHING: The Rural Water Supply Department (Jabatan Bekalan Air Luar Bandar – JBALB) is focusing on three areas to further improve its services.

Its director Chang Kuet Shian said the three areas are the implementation of community projects, command centre system and strengthening of its operations.

Chang said their water supply system comprises supply from the source, distribution to customers, billing services, complain services and assessment.

He said when JBALB first started three years ago there were a lot of things not right and now it is putting things right so this is where the community project involving pipelines is coming, the physical part of the solution.

Chang Kuet Shian

“Now we are pushing the community project and presently there are 381 ongoing projects with most of them have been awarded and are at the delivery stage and while these projects are being implemented the department’s task is to strengthen the operations and wher the infrastructure is not right we will correct it,” Chang said.

He told this to reporters after the officiating of a workshop on digital transformation of water utilities in Sarawak by Assistant Minister for Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang at a hotel here, yesterday.

He added that while waiting for two years for the project to complete they have put in some interim measures.

Chang said in strengthening the department’s operations it needs data and this is where the department is now working very hard to get its command centre system implemented.

He added that the command centre system which is expected to be fully operational soon will be housed in the department’s headquarters building here.

“With data collected and channeled to the command centre system it would be easy for the department to know the problems encountered and to address them immediately.

“Sarawak is so huge. We have 87 water treatment plants operating throughout the state now and it is not easy to get to some.

“What is happening at remote treatment plants we at the headquarters are in the dark, so what we are doing now is to get data coming in to the command centre system so that we know what is happening and be in command to enable us to plan and act promptly,” he said.

He also said that the command centre is part of the department’s transformation programme and the state government has allocated RM110 million for the first phase of the project.

“We are in the process of awarding the physical work of the command centre, then we will have the hardware and software coming in and finally the third contract that we are going to tender out is the supply and installation of sensors at our water treatment plants state wide,” he said.

Chang said they are exploring many options as there are so many technologies and sensors to choose from.

“We want to acquire the best. One of the things is if we have the raw data there must be data analytics software, otherwise it is useless.

“Of course, we can’t have all the command system coming in at once for the 87 treatment plants. Hence, we are going to implement it in stages. This will go a long way, not only in operational matters but also in strategic planning because we will have big data coming in,” he added.

Chang said the command centre is not only based on operational data but will also incorporate project monitoring, financing and administration.

“We also have quite a substantial budget for our capacity building,” he said, adding that there was no point in having a system without capable personnel to operate and manage it.

He said the workshop yesterday was where they sit down together and find out what are the issues, challenges and solutions available for them to adopt.

Chang also thanked Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for approving substantial financial allocations to the department.

“We are looking at January 2020 for the first phase of the command centre system to operate,” he said.