Thursday, March 6, 2014

Current Water Woe is Not an Act of God but a Man-made Crisis

Media Statement of Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama, on Wednesday 5 February 2013.

Current water woe is not an act of God but a man-made crisis. It wasn’t the dry spell that caused the water crisis but Syabas’s inability to reduce its non-revenue water in the past few years. We must embark on water restructuring exercise as soon as possible to ensure long-term water security for people in Klang Valley. 

The current water crisis has caused not only inconvenience to many but also tragedy to individual such as Mrs Holifah Siman from Taman Impian Ehsan who has lost her twins from miscarriage as she carried pails of water during the prolonged water shortage. What is sadder is the fact that the current water crisis is totally preventable if Syabas were to be able to reduce its non-revenue water (NRW) systematically in the past few years.

Current water rationing exercise aims to reduce the raw water released from Sungai Selangor dam and the Klang Gates dam by a combined volume of 230 million liter per day (MLD), which is about 5% of the total water demand in Selangor at about 4500 MLD. In another words, if in the past few years, Syabas has been able to improve its NRW performance by only 5%, the current crisis would not have happened. This would spare the 2.2 millions people in Klang Valley from the inconvenience of water rationing and Mrs Holifah Siman might still be happily pregnant.

Unfortunately, despite frequent ‘rescue operations’ made by the federal government, Syabas’s NRW still lingers around its 2007 level of 33%. Last year alone, the federal government has allocated a total of RM 271 million soft-loan to Syabas in the name of facilities upgrade – RM120 million in February after prolonged water crisis and another RM 151 million in October. What have the millions of ringgits done in NRW reduction and solving the water problem for people in Selangor?

A crisis caused by the act of God is unavoidable but a crisis caused by mankind’s greed and ego is inexcusable. Another man-made water crisis should never happen in Selangor again in the future. As Selangor water reserve margin has fallen below 1%, making it vulnerable to any water stress such as the current scenario, we really can’t afford further delay in water restructuring.

Therefore, we call upon the water concessionaires - Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (SYABAS), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd and Kumpulan ABASS, to respond favorably to Selangor Government renewed offer of RM9.65 billion by 10 March 2014. If however, they reject the offer, we hope that the Federal Government will honor the terms in Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and immediately invoke Clause 114 of the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA) to allow for compulsory acquisition of these water companies based on national interests.