Getting to the root of the water disruption problem

by Doreenn Leong

Many residents in the Klang Valley opted to flee out of town from their water-deprived homes during the recent weekend as they faced yet another water cut. For the less fortunate, who were also affected by the unscheduled water disruption and may not have had the extra cash to have a mini-vacation, they had to endure not having water for basic needs.

Those affected by the massive water cut were upset and called for stricter punishment for the culprits who disposed of waste irresponsibly into the rivers, thus causing contamination resulting in the water cuts.

Stiffer punishment may do the trick but wouldn’t it be better to get to the root of the problem? One key issue highlighted was with the disposal of scheduled wastes by companies. Was the contract for the collection of scheduled wastes given exclusively to certain parties as alleged? Is it a monopoly?

Also, was there a tender called for such a contract? The government needs to be transparent here. It should reveal the basis for certain companies being awarded the scheduled waste collection contracts.

And is it true that these scheduled waste collection companies charge an exorbitant or unreasonable minimum fee to factory operators?

As such, most of these factory operators, especially the smaller ones, resort to disposing of their waste the cheaper way – into the river.

Like the 40,000 users in the Sg Kim Kim case before, the recent contamination of Sungai Selangor affected 1.2 million people. Many businesses were unable to operate without water supply and are losing money because of the unscheduled water cuts.

The unscheduled water cuts were at seven districts in the Klang Valley involving 1,292 areas in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Klang/Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.

The polluter, Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd, allegedly failed to store oil waste according to conditions set, thereby polluting Sungai Gong, causing the shutdown of four water treatment plants. The factory was suspected as the main source of the pollution and an immediate shutdown of the factory was ordered on Sept 3.

The factory was alleged to have released solvent into Sungai Gong which flows into Sungai Sembah, one of the main rivers of Sungai Selangor.

Following the odour pollution incident, the Selangor Menteri Besar revealed that the authorities have also identified 53 premises around Sungai Gong at the Rawang Integrated Industrial Park as possible culprits.

For each unscheduled water cut, perhaps the management of Pengurusan Air Selangor (formerly known as Syabas) should take a pay cut. If the situation does not improve, the current management needs to be sacked.

Some may say that it is not necessarily Air Selangor’s fault, but shouldn’t it have set up a surveillance team by now to monitor potential threats to water contamination given several such cases in the past?

This is no longer about teaching the culprits a valuable lesson but also making the Air Selangor management responsible for any unscheduled water cuts.

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