Current Affairs

Getting priorities right in Selangor water issue

By Yeo Bee Yin, ADUN for Damansara Utama

The burst pipe incident along Jalan Universiti during water rationing is a bitter reminder to all of us of the urgency of water asset take over.

A burst pipe along Jalan Universiti on Monday afternoon not only caused traffic jam but sparked public anger over the amount of water being wasted. The last thing we need when we are experiencing water rationing is a burst pipe that gushes out the precious water that is supposed to flow through our taps.

This incident serves as a reminder to all of us the need to replace the old pipes in Syabas water distribution network. As of now, every 100 drops of treated water fed into the water distribution network only 67 drops reach the taps of the households, 33 drops non-revenue water (NRW) are wasted through pipe leakages and water theft.

Despite receiving repeated financial assistance from the Federal Government in the name of NRW reduction, Syabas NRW still lingers at 33%. Since 2009 until 2013, Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd, which hold 70% share of Syabas, has received a total of around RM 700 million financing at favorable rates from the Federal Government.

If the financial assistance given to Syabas were to be spent on replacing old pipes instead of paying its CEO and directors handsomely, we would have been able to reduce the NRW quite significantly. The total investment needed to reduce NRW by 20%, from 33% to 13%, in 4 years is RM540 million.

With a better NRW, current water rationing might not be needed or even if it’s needed, it might not be as huge and as long. The much undesirable burst pipe during water rationing would not have happened.

While spending on capital expenditure to replace old pipes is important, in whose hands the money is entrusted to, is equally important. History has shown us that Syabas is a wrong hand for the money.

Therefore, the first step of water restructuring is the taking over of water assets, which can be done through a direct buyout of the water concessionaires or the Federal Government invoking Section 114 of Water Services Industry Act (WASIA) for forced take over.

We hope that through the water restructuring exercise, water security of the people of Selangor can be guaranteed with reasonable and affordable water tariffs in the future.

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