Broken pumps cause water shortage in Yenangyaung

Jan 1, 2009 (DVB), Residents of Yenangyaung have been facing shortages of drinking water since the town's three main water pumps broke down and many are worried about the risk of fires.

Locals are particularly worried about fires breaking out because of the stores of crude oil in Yenangyaung, an oil-producing town and one of the driest places in Burma.

Since the three water pumps which brought water to the town broke down, drinking water has only been available once every 10 days, according to a Yenangyaung resident.

"Water is pumped from the Ping stream and stored in a reservoir which holds a million gallons," the resident said.

"Three of the four existing pumps have broken down and they can’t repair them," he said.

"People have to depend on pumped water as it is not easy to dig wells in a town built on high hills and in valleys."

While there are some wells in the town, the local resident said the well water can only be used for washing, not for cooking or drinking.

The resident said the dry weather and lack of water had heightened locals' concerns about the risk of fires, and local fire services were ill-equipped to deal with a blaze.

"There are four fire engines in Yenangyaung and none of them works – only one of them might start if you gave it a good push," the resident said.

"There are not enough firefighters or fire engine drivers. When a fire breaks out, a volunteer who knows how to drive has to drive the engine to the scene," he said.

"It is only the cold season now, not the dry season yet, but local people are already very worried."

As the township fire brigade has no functioning fire engines of its own, fire engines from the oil department have to come to put out any fires, the resident said.

The municipal authorities and fire departments declined to comment.

Reporting by Arnt Phone Myat

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