Azmin admits weaknesses in giving free water


(Astro Awani) – Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali admitted that there were weaknesses in the giving of free water for the first 20 cubic metres of usage for the state’s residents, especially those living in high-rise buildings.

He said this was because there were those among such residents who failed to enjoy the free 20 cubic metres of water due to the problem of changing the bulk water meter to individual meters.

“We had launched the programme of migration from bulk meters to individual meters but there has been a problem as Syabas (Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd) imposed a high cost to change the meters.

“Therefore, the state government has taken a proactive measure by giving coupons and we also have the report-and-get system. If there are consumers who do not receive the free water facility, they should report to get it,” he said at the Selangor state assembly sitting Thursday.

Mohamed Azmin (PKR-Bukit Antarabangsa) was replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Mohd Shamsudin Lias (BN-Sungai Burong) on whether the state government would give rebate or consolation payment to Selangor residents who did not get the free water facility since it was introduced in 2008.

Meanwhile, Selangor UMNO liaison deputy chief Mat Nadzari Ahmad Dahlan, when met by reporters at the state assembly lobby, said the state government’s plan to raise water tariffs showed that it was insensitive to the plight of the people who were already burdened by the rising cost of living.

He said a water tariff increase should not arise even though the menteri besar gave the reason of high cost borne by the government to reduce non-revenue water (NRW), currently recorded at 35 percent.

Yesterday, Mohamed Azmin told the state assembly that the state government would increase the water tariffs after the completion of the taking-over of four water concessionaires in the state.

Meanwhile, former menteri besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the increase in water tariffs to be implemented by the state government was unreasonable.

He said this move was contradictory to the state government’s intention of taking over the Selangor water supply industry.

“I am shocked and regret the sudden change in such public policies because among the original reasons for the restructuring of the state’s water industry was for the people to enjoy more efficient water supply services and at reasonable rates.

“According to the initial plan, a water tariff increase would only be considered after three to four years following the completion of the restructuring exercise and any increase should not exceed 12 percent to 15 percent every three years,” he said in a statement today.

Khalid said as the sole owner, the state government had the power to set the pricing and costing at each level of operation as a strategy to control the operational costs, and hence avoid increasing the water tariffs.