Friday 20 July 2012

Politics has clouded water issue in Selangor — Lim Sue Goan

JULY 20 — The dams are overflowing with water, but there is no water in the tap. What is going on here?
After the war of statements over the past few days, we have finally got a clearer picture. Even if water dams are full, it does not guarantee sufficient water supply as water kept in dams is raw water which must be treated to become drinking water.

No matter how much raw water we have, we will still face water shortage if we are not able to filter and purify water rapidly.

The water supply operation in Selangor is complicated. Syabas is responsible only for water distribution while concessionaire companies Permodalan Negri Selangor Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Holdings (SPLASH) and Konsortium ABASS are responsible for water filtration.

There are 33 water treatment plants in Selangor producing 4.3 billion litres of water per day. Since there are already so many water treatment plants, why is Syabas still demanding for the Langat 2 water treatment plant?

It might be due to the lack of connection among the existing water treatment plants. They might be able to produce more water, but they are unable to transfer treated water to other areas facing a water shortage. Since some water treatment plants are low in production, why don’t they try to upgrade them?
Perhaps they might not try to shrink the responsibility, in which the state government blames Syabas, and Syabas blames the filtration companies, if only one company is responsible for both filtration and distribution.

It reminds me of years ago when different companies were providing the LRT services and it resulted in various complaints from the public. There are too many companies involved in the Selangor water supply chain and, thus, it is not easy to regulate.

Concessionaire filtration companies make money while water distributor Syabas is suffering losses. However, its CEO earns a monthly salary of RM425,000 and its high-ranked officers also earn RM5.1 million a year.

Syabas has the ability to pay high salaries, but cannot afford to replace old water pipes, causing more than 30 per cent of wastage.

The problems exposed weaknesses in management and execution. If these weaknesses are not overcome, it would not help even if raw water is transferred from Pahang and more water treatment plants are constructed.

A special Cabinet committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has now been set up to discuss the Selangor water crisis. If the committee does not get see full participation, how it is going to strengthen the water services management?

The Selangor state government should be invited to join the committee to lift the people’s suffering as soon as possible. If water continues to be politicised, the problem will worsen.

If efficiency can be enhanced after the Selangor state government takes over Syabas, they should then prioritise the people’s interests.

The water crisis has once again showed us that poor management and execution is the greatest threat to the country. Many good plans will become nothing if we are not able to manage them well.

The movement to save the bird’s nest industry has gone bad and the whole industry is now facing a collapse. The regional education hub project has also been taken advantage by criminals and the country now has many fake students. There are too many cases of similar omissions.

Malaysia has an abundance of rain, but is now facing a water shortage. Who should be responsible? Politicisation has indeed blurred the focus. —

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