Thursday, July 19, 2012

SYABAS: A Threat to National Security

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (SYABAS) has become a threat to our national security by threatening 7 million consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with water rationing where there is no shortage of water.

When SYABAS insisted on low water levels, visits by the Selangor State Executive Committee members Ronnie Liu and Xavier Jeyakumar to the various damns across the state yesterday proved that the dams are full and there is no shortage of raw water.

Now SYABAS has officially admitted yesterday that there is no shortage of raw water, but instead shifted the goal post to claim that there is now shortage of treated water.

This is essentially an admission that the SYABAS treatment plants are either operating inefficiently or there are not enough treatment plant capacity at existing water reservoirs.

SYABAS has to date been lobbying hard for the new “mega” Langat 2 treatment plant to be built, which will only be ready by 2014 at the earliest, but even then, the plant is meant to treat water sourced expensively from Pahang instead of the existing available raw water supply.

It is hence clear that the costly Langat 2 plant is not necessary.  Instead, what is needed is a thorough review of the existing water treatment plants operated by the concessionaires – Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Holdings (SPLASH) and Konsortium ABASS.

If required, Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has already promised build additional capacities at the existing treatment plants, and these measures will take less than a year to complete compared to the Langat 2 project.

The Menteri Besar has also highlighted the fact that Syabas has failed to reduce non-revenue water below the contractual threshold of 20 percent; owes nearly RM3 billion to its water treatment facility operators; and has failed to invest in facilities and infrastructure to fulfill its responsibility of supplying adequate water to the state.

The entire “water-rationing” threat is a ruse to frighten the people of Selangor into forcing the approval of the Langat 2 project which has nothing to do at all with the alleged low levels of treated water.

It is a fear-mongering tactic used by SYABAS which is 70% owned by Puncak Niaga, firstly to help Barisan Nasional win Selangor in the next general election in order to perpetuate their control over water rights in the state.

Secondly, it is an excuse to try and force the state government to agree to the RM3.94 billion Langat 2 project to source raw water from Pahang which is much more expensive than the existing raw water as well as other available means.  The Selangor government has refused permission for the Langat 2 project as it is not only unnecessary as shown by the overflowing dams in the state, it will raise the cost of water supply to the people of Selangor and hence add to the burden shouldered by the Rakyat.

The privatization of SYABAS has resulted in the interest of the people of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya being severely compromised.  SYABAS can now act with impunity to threaten the security of the nation by holding the people and the state government to ransom.  Such threats to our national security must be dealt with utmost urgency and without compromise.  We call upon the Federal Government and Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) to immediately censure SYABAS for unilaterally threatening water rationing without prior consultation and review with the Selangor state government and other relevant authorities.

We also call upon the Federal Government to use the powers vested in the Minister of Energy, Green Technology & Water to complete the restructuring exercise of the water industry in Selangor in accordance to the spirit of the Water Services Industry Act (2006), which is to place water services under the control of the state government, to ensure that the rights of the people to quality and affordable water are fully protected.  The BN government must stop pandering to its cronies and put the rakyat’s interest first.
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