Stop bickering and get on with it, water groups say


(Malay Mail Online) – Water groups are fed-up with the bickering between the federal and state governments over the seven-year water deal that has come to a stalemate.

Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali had decided on Monday not to extend the agreement signed in September last year because of Putrajaya’s failure to comply with preconditions set out by the state government.

Across the board, the groups asked Azmin to not back away from the deal.

They told both governments to put aside their differences and get back to the negotiation table for the benefit of the people.

Water and Energy Consumer Association of Malaysia (Wecam) secretary- general Foon Weng Lian said the association, the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) and Forum Air Malaysia were disappointed with Azmin’s move.

Foon said the last seven years had been “flushed down the drain”.

“We are tired of all this nonsense,” he said.

“Water should not be treated as a bargaining chip for political mileage, at the expense of the people of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.”

Foon also asked why the federal government kept requesting an extension to complete the restructuring.

“What is the benefit for the people?” he asked.

“Time is running out. If the Langat 2 water treatment plant is not completed on time, water crises will become a norm.”

Association of Water and Energy Research (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said the water restructuring plan must go forward.

“The treated water margin is low and the supply is near equal the demand for treated water,” he said.

“If anything were to happen to the Sungai Selangor dam, we need other alternative sources and the Langat 2 water treatment plant.”

Piarapakaran said there was a need to reduce dependency on the rivers as a raw water source and Azmin should take the initiative.

“He should counter, rather than waiting for Putrajaya to come up with new terms,” he said.

“Political parties should put aside their interests as businesses and consumers are suffering.

“The water shortage has already affected economy because some businesses cannot expand their operations.”

Water Association of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (Swan) president Aldric Loong said Azmin’s decision was frustrating.

“If he wants to call off the water deal, what is the next course of action?” he asked.

He questioned the need for both federal and state governments to cause unnecessary panic among the people.

“Why cause a panic (by coming up with such statement) if there was still room for negotiation?” he asked.

Malaysian Water Association president Syed Mohamed Adnan Alhabshi said the move was unwise.

“The move has caused uncertainty in the water industry,” he said.

“A lot of investment is required to improve the distribution network, reduce non-revenue water leakage and address the need for more treatment plants.”

He said failure in sealing the deal would heavily affect the people.

“The Pahang-Selangor water transfer project has been completed,” Syed Mohamed Adnan said.

“If this deal falls through, the Langat 2 water treatment plant will not be completed, turning other facilities into white elephants.

“The treatment plant (construction) must be continued or else it will be a huge risk for the rakyat.”