MILG addresses potable water scarcity in island provinces thru desalination machines

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COTABATO CITY – The Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) will install in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi ten (10) units of machines that will convert salty sea water into fresh drinkable water.

This is to address the scarcity of potable water in the area that has been going on for generations, according to MILG Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo.

On Thursday, May 27, Sinarimbo signed a contract agreement with Water Equipment Technologies (WET) Industries, Inc. for the provision, installation, and delivery of five (5) desalination machines for Tawi-Tawi, and another five for Sulu, specifically in the municipalities of Pangutaran, Pata, Hadji Panglima Tahil, and Pandami.

Sinarimbo shared that during his trip to the island provinces, he observed the challenges being faced by the residents – the need to travel by boat from one island to another for 4-5 hours just to have access to safe drinkable water.

Digging for wells was not an option, Sinarimbo said, as it would not yield potable water since they are surrounded by the sea, and drinking water with high salt content poses serious health problems.

“We’ve been battling this problems for probably as old as time, and I am perplexed by the fact that no serious attempt has been made to resolve this issue,” he said.

“During that trip, I made a promise to some of the officials there that we will try to resolve the challenge that has been there for generations, and this government will resolve that in earnest,” he recalled.

During the Mushawara consultation with Civil Society Organizations held in January of this year, the issue on potable water in Sulu was also raised and Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim vowed that a desalination project would be implemented.

Amounting to a total of over Php143-million, the desalination machines were procured from the 2020 contingency fund of the Office of the Chief Minister, and implemented by MILG under its Project Management Development Division.

Donna Paiso, WET Industries, Inc. representative, said that despite the materials coming from abroad, she assured that they will do their best to deliver the machines on time. Founded in 1975, WET is a water treatment expert based in Dallas, Texas.

The Commission on Audit was in charge to oversee the process of bidding for the project in order to make sure that the laws, rules, and procedures required for public bidding for procurement were not disregarded.

Sinarimbo said the project is the ‘first bold step’ of the regional government in addressing the lack of potable water in the island provinces. He said desalination facilities will be also deployed to Basilan province.

“More than the accomplishment of a specific project for this ministry, it is really the realization of the dream of many of those kids that I have seen in the island provinces that, finally, they will have access to potable water,” he said.-BPI

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