Government may invoke water Act to take over Selangor ops

Maximus Ongkili

(The Star) – The Federal Government is close to invoking Section 114 of the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA), which will allow it to take over the operations of Bukit Nanas and Semenyih water plants from Selangor.

Although the Government had considered invoking the Act in the past, this is probably the closest it has come to it as the deadline to re-negotiate and confirm the Master Agreement on the restructuring exercise is Monday.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said Selangor’s delay in making a decision by contesting the status of the assets involved had left them with no choice.

“We have done our part of the deal. The money (for the restructuring exercise) is there and now, Selangor has to do its part.

“I have exhausted (every effort) but when they continue to insist that Bukit Nanas and Semenyih plants are theirs, that is delaying the exercise.

“If they continue with this, invoking Section 114 of WSIA is the only option left for the restructuring exercise to proceed,” he said after presenting the ministry’s excellence service awards here yesterday.

Dr Ongkili said using legal recourse to end the impasse was an “instrument of last resort” when negotiations had failed and there was a need to protect public welfare.

Section 114 allows the minister to take over the control of water concessionaires’ properties, businesses and affairs for the purpose of national interest.

The water deal came to a standstill due to a dispute over land ownership rights of the two plants and both parties have until Monday to re-negotiate and confirm the agreement.

The Selangor government was initially given until April 30 to extend the cut-off date of the Master Agreement on the restructuring exercise.

The deadline was extended to Monday.

Dr Ongkili said he had written to Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali on April 30, telling him that the “ball was now in his court”.

“I wrote that it was now up to him on how he wanted the exercise to proceed.

Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will have huge water problems in 2017 if the exercise is further delayed,” he said.