Plan for single entity to manage water supply
By:Natasha Jee

KUCHING: Sarawak is out to transform its water supply industry. To achieve this, the Utility and Telecommunication Ministry is studying the possibility of forming one single entity to manage the state’s water supply.

And there is also the possibility of turning the State Water Authority (SWA) to a corporate body.

Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi said these measures were necessary so that a more proactive supervision and holistic management of water resources and water supply could be implemented for sustainable environment and provision of safe water supply.

He said the Water Ordinance, 1994 stipulated that SWA had general control and supervision of all water supply authorities and the management of water resources and water catchment areas in the state.

“Currently, SWA comes under the purview of the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication. There is no dedicated organisational set-up for SWA to execute the regulatory functions effectively and efficiently, although some of the functions had been delegated to other agencies.

“Hence, I hope that there will be a very comprehensive recommendation from the study so that we can have a standardised management throughout the state,” he said during the last day of a workshop for the study on the formation of one entity and body corporate for state water supply at Imperial Hotel yesterday (Jan 14).

Julaihi said water supply remained the responsibility of the state government and currently there were four water supply authorities in Sarawak, namely Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), Kuching Water Board (KWB), Sibu Water Board (SWB) and LAKU Management Sdn Bhd (LAKU).

“To achieve Sarawak’s aspiration of having world class utilities, which are reliable, economical, safe and sustainable in order to uplift the economic and social wellbeing of Sarawak, it is essential for us to have efficient and effective utility systems, including water supply.

“The state government is therefore considering the possibility of implementing an integrated water supply entity so that there could be a greater operational effectiveness and efficiency as well as financial sustainability,” he said.

He noted the importance of closer coordination and collaboration among the agencies to ensure the sustainability of the state’s water resources.

“This is why it is crucial to strengthen the functions and roles of SWA so as to transform our regulatory functions and improve the water supply delivery services.

“Probably, we could look at how countries like Australia manage the water system. I think that could be part of our reference so that we can really have a good water authority in the future,” he said.

Besides having a good water management system, it was also important to educate the people on the importance of water, he said. “Otherwise, the people may not value the importance of water. So, I think this could be one of the aspects that we need to look at,” he said.

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