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AT THE BODER: Sebatik People Get Clean Water in Malaysia

SEBATIK, KOMPAS - Approaching dry season, thousands of people in Sebatik Island, East Kalimantan, have started to face difficulties in finding clean water. Regional Drinking Water Company (PDAM) of Nunukan Regency is only able to distribute clean water to 708 out of 5800 families residing at Sebatik Island.

Some people in Sebatik who usually depend on rain water for bathing, washing, and cooking, are now taking clean water from Tawau, Malaysia. “Usually, we bring 10 jerry cans to be filled by clean water in Tawau. Fortunately, we do not need to buy it because we have many contacts there (tawau) so that we can get it for free,” said Abidin (62), a villager of Aji Kuning Village, Sebatik Sub-district, Tuesday (2 August). Ale Ilham (42), another villager of Aji Kuning Village, also admitted that he often takes clean water in Tawau. “If it does not rain for several days, we will certainly get water in Tawau,” said Ale. Water filled in the jerry cans is transported by small boat, with the travel time from Tawau to Sebatik taking approximately 15 minutes. 

The Head of Aji Kuning Village, Syarifuddin, said that clean water is the main problem for Sebatik people. The problem has often been complained by the people to the Local Parliament (DPRD) of Nunukan, but the result has been nil. In Aji Kuning Village, we can find PDAM piping network built in 2004, but it is already damaged because there is no clean water flowing through it. Sebatik Island, which borders with Malaysia, is divided into two sub-districts, namely Sebatik and West Sebatik, with 12 villages. This island is part of Nunukan Regency. Out of 5,800 families in that island, PDAM Tirta Dharma of Nunukan can only serve 708 families in three villages.

Production Implementer of PDAM Tirta Dharma in Nunukan Regency, Sebatik Unit, Mahmud, admitted the minimum supply of clean water from the local PDAM for Sebatik people. At present, PDAM only depends on four wells with a total debit of two litres per second and 3.7 litres per second, respectively.

“With the present wells, only 708 families can enjoy clean water in Sebatik. We once tried flowing water to every village covered by the network, but water in the two wells is not sufficient,” said Mahmud. (ILO)