Batam (ANTARA) - The government has allocated funding worth Rp17 billion to install a water distribution system on Galang Island in Batam, Riau Islands, that will be developed as an isolation and observation center of infectious diseases.

"We have yet to calculate the total funding. However, for this (water distribution system), we require Rp17 billion," Minister of Public Works and Public Housing Basuki Hadimuljono stated at Monggak Dam in Rempang Island, Batam, on Monday.

The minister reiterated that the government will renovate the island’s infrastructure, earlier used as a camp for Vietnamese refugees, also called as the boat people, to become an isolation and observation center of infectious diseases.

The ministry will not solely channel its attention on the development of buildings but also on its infrastructure, such as clean water.

The clean water will be supplied from Monggak Dam, dozens of kilometers from the camp.

Despite a water reservoir at the camp, its capacity was quite less at 0.1 cubic meters per second, while the island’s water demand is projected to touch 3.5 cubic meters per second.

"This is the closest dam, with a capacity of 230 thousand cubic meters. We will source five cubic meters per second from the dam," he expounded.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had earlier echoed the government’s intent to revive health facilities in Galang Island, Batam, Riau Islands Province, to serve as a hospital for handling infectious diseases, including the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

"We already have the facility, but had not been utilized since long. It will be renovated soon. Thus, we will have Sebaru Kecil Island, Galang Island, and also Natuna. We can choose one of them. The observation would not solely focus on Sebaru Island," Jokowi revealed.

During the 1979-1997 period, Galang Island served as a camp for refugees from Vietnam. The island has various facilities -- barrack, worship house, hospital, and school -- and it can accommodate 250 thousand people.

The Galang camp was closed in 1996, seven years after the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees.

All Vietnamese refugees had been repatriated by the UNHCR. The official transfer of the camp from the UNHCR to the Indonesian Batam Industrial Development Authority took place in 1997.

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Translator: Yuniati Jannatun N, Sri Haryat
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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