KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) -- The allocation of RM120 million recently announced by the federal government is meant for the upgrading works on several water plants and existing pump houses in Selangor and not for Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) bailout, according to National Water Service Commission (SPAN).
SPAN chairman Datuk Ismail Kassim said the upgrading works were ongoing at 11 pump houses in the state and the last time such works were being implemented was in the 1970s and 1980s when each pump house was only capable of operating for only 12 hours a day.
"With rapid development, the operation of the pump house had to be extended up to more than 22 hours a day. This means that the existing system is no longer capable of meeting the demands of water from both domestic and industrial users.
"So, there is no issue of Syabas bailout because the allocation is actually very small. Aid is always given in terms of capital expenditure (capex). So, the perception that the allocation is meant for Syabas bailout if absolutely untrue."
He said in response to the opposition's allegation that the allocation announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last January was meant for Syabas bailout.
Ismail also explained about capex and how the issue differed in Selangor as compared to Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Penang which had opted to be put under the new water service regime where the capex was borne by the federal government through Permodalan Asset Air Berhad (PAAB).
"Until the state government opted for the new regime, capex and other matters will remain as the state government's responsibility and this happens only in Selangor because there is a concession agreement between the state government and Syabas.
"In other states, only the water treatment plants are privatised, while the delivery or distribution of water is controlled by state government-owned companies," he said.
He said in Penang, for example, Syarikat Air Pulau Pinang, was in control of the distribution, while in Johor, some of its water treatment plants were managed by private companies, but the water distribution was controlled by Syarikat Air Johor.
In overcoming water issues in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, such as the recent water woes in Pandan ad Ampang last January, it is best for Selangor government to approve the Langat 2 Water Treatment Plant project.
The project is proposed as a long-term solution, taking into consideration the situation in the next 20 years, because Selangor is the country's most progressive development centre with high demand of water for housing projects and industrial activities.
"That is why there exists some projects that we cannot approve due to shortage in water supply. What causes the shortage? Even if we have overflowing water at the dams, the capacity of each treatment plant remains the same.
"If the capacity of the plant is to produce two million litres of water a day, but we overtreated four million litres of water a day, what will happen?
"The water we consume will not be clean, not hygienic and probably has virus and bacteria in it. We want to be able to drink water directly from the tap like in most developed countries, but we just not there yet," he said.
Ismail said SPAN, as the water service industry governing body, had nothing to do with Syabas and if the company failed to operate accordingly, suitable actions can be taken against it.
"This includes controlling the licence and daily monitoring of its production to ensure the water it produces are safe for consumption," he said, adding that from the monitoring activities carried out by SPAN, Syabas was found to have done a good job so far, in terms of productivity, work procedure and account management.