BINTULU: An acute water shortage has forced some residents of Rumah Ado and students of SRK Rumah Keseng boarding school to turn to a river which has floating toilets and logging activity on its banks.
Rumah Ado (previously known as Rh Bilong) is located about 80km from Bintulu and has 800 residents.
A member of the village’s security and development committee, Suing Sati, said the longhouse had no piped water after a fire destroyed more than half of the longhouse in 2008.
The government and corporate sector have helped rebuild part of the longhouse.
Suing said that those who did not have rainwater storage tanks were forced to use the polluted Kakus River for drinking and cleaning.
“Sometimes, when the oil supply at the nearby logging camp is refilled, the water smells like diesel. How can we drink from such a river?” he asked.
Poor sanitation also plagues the commu-nity. A row of floating toilets dotting the river was the only form of sanitation for the longhouse, said Suing.
The villagers had tried to repair the pipes but they do not have enough funds, he said.
“We have grown tired of repairing the pipes and hope the logging company or the government will help us to buy more durable materials.”
He said the restoration of clean water supply to the longhouse was crucial as it affected not only the longhouse residents but also the boarding-school students.
Teacher Nurfaizah Abu Bakar from Selangor, who has been teaching there for three years, said it was a real challenge to cope without regular water supply. She has to buy mineral water by the boxes from Tatau town.
“The bottles of mineral water can only last for seven days,” she said.
But athough she could afford it, many of her students could not, Nurfaizah added. Rainwater stored in several medium sized water tanks was the only source of clean water for the school.
The school’s Parent-Teacher Association chairman Ming Chai said they had been facing a lot of water shortages lately.
“This sometimes forces the school to pump water from Kakus River to fill its water tanks,” he said, adding that the water was muddy and contaminated with human waste.
The school has 180 students, 16 teachers and nine clerical staff.
More than half of its students stay in a dormitory and are given permission to return to their longhouses on weekends on certain occasions.
Express boats remain the main mode of transportation to the longhouse from Tatau town.
Print version on the STAR 9 July 2011