Plan to rebuild 8km sewer line
Published on: Tuesday, December 01, 2020
By: Sidney Skinner
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The smell from the waste water coming from this Likas drain is upsetting residents of the condominiums nearby. Arrow shows the manhole concerned.
THE Public Works Department (PWD) plans to rebuild an eight-kilometre section of the sewerage system along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens which is damaged.

A PWD spokeswoman said the Department was in the process of trying to secure funds for the repairs from the Ministry of Finance, with the work slated to be carried out under the “Rancangan Malaysia ke-12 (Twelfth Malaysia Plan).”

“The sewer line is in urgent need of rehabilitation as it has deteriorated due to wear and tear,” she said.

“Because of their age and the corrosive impact of the effluent inside, the pipes have collapsed.”

She said the Department hoped to begin attending to the damage “early next year”.

“The upgrading effort will be conducted in four phases over a span of five years.

“The first phase should involve a two-kilometre section of the sewer line beside some condominiums along Likas Bay, at the junction between Jalan Istiadat and Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens.”

The wall of this manhole has been “punched” through so that the effluent can empty into the drain.

She was responding to a unit-owner’s misgivings about the presence of excrement in the roadside drain between the residential property and the latter stretch.

He suspected that effluent was being discharged into the drain as a strong ammonia-like stench often wafted into his condominium from the direction of the structure.

The spokeswoman confirmed that sewage was indeed emptying into the drain but that this was being done as a stop-gap measure.

“If we don’t do this, then all the manholes downstream, from those around the Sabah International Convention Centre and Jesselton Mall to Suria Sabah and the central banking district (CBD), will surely overflow,” she said.

“The effluent is being released into the drain, near the condominiums, to mitigate this problem while we wait to receive the funds to refurbish the sewer line.” 

She said the PWD was aware of the nuisance posed by the foul odour coming from the drain.

“We are looking into the possibility of putting microbes into sewage, upstream from condominiums, to minimise this problem.”

ALVIN of Likas said he and the other owners whose units faced the bay were forced to keep their windows closed to prevent the stench from coming indoors.

“We have to put up with the lack of fresh air in our condominiums just to minimise this nuisance,” he said. 

“We cannot even spend much time on our balconies to take in the view because the stink drives us back into our units.

“I have a strong feeling that the waste water is somehow finding its ways into the drains.”

The backflow from the manhole is polluting the runoff in the drain and has given rise to an unhygienic stench.

He said such a practice was not just unhygienic but bound to have a negative impact on the health of those living inside the building.

“I can only wonder how their wellbeing might be affected from having to inhale the fumes from the drain.”

Alvin related his concerns about the foul odour to the management company (MC) for the condominiums, when he first detected this problem “months ago”.

“I have contacted the firm’s staff on and off since then. In each instance, I was assured that the MC was seeking the help of the relevant agency to intervene on my grievance.

“So far, however, the nuisance still persists. Whenever it rains heavily, the stench becomes intolerable.”

Alvin related his displeasure about this turn of events in a letter to Hotline which was forwarded to the MC and City Hall.

A MC spokesman said the company had been swamped with complaints from unit-owners about the foul smell.

“Our personnel made a preliminary check of the drain from where the stench was apparently coming from,” he said.

“They noted that the manhole on the roadside, near the drain, was damaged. 

“The concrete wall of the manhole appeared to have been punched through. This is allowing the effluent inside to flow into the drain.”

On top of the discomfort caused by the stench, he said the MC feared the waste water would have a negative impact on the surroundings.

“The pollutant water may cause nutrient build-up in the ecosystem for the area.

“This could result in changes to the natural habitat and the proliferation of nuisance pest species.”

He said the MC informed the local authorities about these findings shortly thereafter.

“We wrote to the Mayor, Likas Assemblyman’s office and the Environment Protection Department in September, appealing for help to resolve this emergency.

“We are still waiting to receive an official response to our letters.”

A City Hall spokesman said the agency had knowledge of the sewerage woe beside but could do little to help.

“At one stage, during the Movement Control Order, many of the manholes in the CBD began to overflow and we traced these incidents to a collapse of the sewer line next to the residential property in Likas,” he said.

“We identified the damage as being a major problem and drew up a proposal to carry out some rectification work. 

“However, we could not secure any funding to proceed.”

He said a representative from the Likas Assemblyman’s office contacted City Hall about the grievances from the condominium owners in July.

“We advised the Assemblyman to take up this matter with the PWD as we had come to learn that the Department was due to upgrade the sewerage in the area.”

The spokesman said the concerns raised by the condominium MC were also raised during a meeting in September.

This meeting, which was held at the PWD headquarters, was chaired by the Permanent Secretary for the Local Government and Housing Ministry, according to him.

When asked about the delay in responding to the MC’s letter, the spokesman declined to comment.

“We will arrange to write back to the company as soon as possible,” he said.


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