Lisa J. Ariffin, The Malaysian Insider
Putrajaya has agreed to build the Langat 2 water treatment plant despite Selangor’s objections, with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin saying today a tender will be called soon for the RM3.6 billion project.
He also said Putrajaya will refer the Selangor government’s planned takeover of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) to the Attorney-General as it involved legal technicalities.
Muhyiddin said the Langat 2 water treatment plant was important to prevent Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from reaching critical water supply levels by 2014.
But he acknowledged that until today, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government had refused to grant permission to build Langat 2.
“But we still need to build it; though its cost is high we are prepared,” Muhyiddin told a press conference today here after chairing a meeting of the special Cabinet committee on the Selangor water issue here.
He said an open tender for the Langat 2 plant will be called next month.
“This means we can start work immediately as soon as permission (from the Selangor government) is granted,” he said.
He pointed out the Langat 2 project was crucial and could not be delayed.
“We don’t want any parties to assume that the federal government is at fault; we hope the Selangor government will grant us permission (to build Langat 2),” he said.
Muhyiddin said PR’s planned takeover of Syabas under clause 32 of the concession agreement to the water concessionaire “cannot be considered” due to “substantive and procedural” matters that have not been met by both parties.
However, he said the final decision would be made after the matter is deliberated by the A-G, who had been instructed to call a meeting on this issue this evening.
Muhyiddin said that one of the issues blocking PR’s planned takeover was Syabas’ claim that it was unable to spend on maintenance because the Selangor government had turned down its application for a tariff hike.
“In the agreement there is compensation by the state government if they refuse to increase tariff, but that’s a court matter. That is why Syabas is not happy and is taking it to court,” he said.
Muhyiddin said there must be mutual agreement between two parties in order for a takeover to happen.
“This is fundamental in a concession agreement. But from what we see, there are matters that are not fulfilled,” he said.
“For a takeover, you must have a willing seller and buyer. Both parties must agree.”
On July 16, Selangor announced it will take over Syabas’ operations to avert a supply crisis that has been described as “suspicious” by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
He said the early audit reports showed that Syabas was not handling its capital expenditure well.
He also said legal action would be taken if Putrajaya refused the state’s request to step in and resolve an impasse over future water supply.
On July 14, Syabas presented the Malaysian National Water Services Commission (SPAN) with a water-rationing plan that will affect the Klang Valley, particularly Kuala Lumpur, Hulu Langat and Klang.
In its weekly report available on its website, Syabas recorded on July 5 that the average demand for water was 4,324.79 million litres a day (MLD) with clean water reserve being at 46.21 MLD, or 1.6 per cent, far below the recommended reserve of 20 per cent.
The utility provider also stated in June that the water shortage was caused by a lack of rain, contamination of rivers and scheduled maintenance work at water treatment plants.