Air Selangor ver­sus Air Wi­layah Perseku­tuan?

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Pu­tra­jaya are man­aged by Air Selangor, ex­cept for SPLASH – ne­go­ti­a­tion is on­go­ing. His­tor­i­cally, Kuala Lumpur and Pu­tra­jaya were part of Selangor and the pip­ing net­work is en­tan­gled be­tween these ter­ri­to­ries. The Wa­ter Ser­vices In­dus­try Act 2006 (WSIA) al­lows con­sumers that are close to bor­ders of states to choose wa­ter sup­ply from the neigh­bour­ing state. What if many along the bor­der choose Air Selangor? This will re­duce the ac­counts that will be man­aged by Air FT.

Se­condly, how much raw wa­ter re­sources will Air FT have to be self­sus­tain­ing? If this new com­pany wants to buy raw wa­ter from Pa­hang or Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan, they need to get the Selangor govern­ment’s ap­proval to lay pipes in Selangor’s ter­ri­tory. There may be a sug­ges­tion to pump ground­wa­ter as an­other raw wa­ter re­source but this may send the town­ship sink­ing, as land sub­si­dence is one of the neg­a­tive im­pacts from large-scale ground­wa­ter ex­trac­tion.

Sim­i­larly, Tasik Pu­tra­jaya also needs to be high­lighted. Dur­ing the 2014 wa­ter cri­sis, this lake was cho­sen as a po­ten­tial wa­ter source. At that time, we warned a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Na­tional Wa­ter Ser­vices Com­mis­sion (Su­ruhan­jaya Perkhid­matan Air Ne­gara, or SPAN) that such a move will cause a na­tional dis­as­ter. This lake is a man­made lake and it does not have nat­u­ral wa­ter recharge. Quick draw of wa­ter may cause build­ings close to the lake to col­lapse and sink into the lake. The Pu­tra­jaya lake was de­signed to use wa­ter to cool the area and not as source of raw wa­ter. Now, where are they go­ing to get the raw wa­ter from?

Thirdly, pol­lu­tion oc­cur­ring un­der Air Selangor’s watch may also oc­cur un­der Air FT. We need to ad­dress the raw wa­ter pol­lu­tion is­sue holis­ti­cally and harsh pun­ish­ment must be meted out against wrong­do­ers. There­fore, us­ing the pol­lu­tion is­sue as a rea­son to form a new en­tity is a lame duck rea­son. Awer has put for­ward a num­ber of sug­ges­tions. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of those sug­ges­tions can en­sure Malaysia reaches near-zero wa­ter pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents in the long term.

Last but not least, form­ing a new en­tity will need its own board of di­rec­tors and new man­age­ment to op­er­ate a smaller scale op­er­a­tion. This may cause higher per cu­bic me­tre cost be­ing passed on to wa­ter tar­iff. Thus, why the fuss and rush to form a new Air FT? Solve the raw wa­ter pol­lu­tion is­sue first. We hope ma­ture think­ing is ap­plied when man­ag­ing wa­ter is­sues to en­sure do­mes­tic and busi­ness con­sumers are not put in limbo.

In ad­di­tion to that, the Splash ne­go­ti­a­tion is re­port­edly above mar­ket value com­pared with what was pro­posed in the 2013 takeover of­fer. Sec­tion 114 of WSIA should have been im­posed long ago when con­ces­sion hold­ers refuse to take of­fers that are fair in the Malaysian con­text. There should be no fear of bond hold­ers as the li­a­bil­i­ties re­lated to these as­sets will be taken over un­der Pen­gu­ru­san Aset Air Bhd (PAAB). We would like to re­mind that any ad­di­tional cost that will be passed to PAAB will even­tu­ally end up to be paid by con­sumers via wa­ter tar­iff.

This ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Piara­pakaran S., pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Wa­ter and En­ergy Re­search Malaysia (Awer), a non­govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion in­volved in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in the fields of wa­ter, en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment.

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