Water supplier Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) has countered several allegations levelled against it, which it says are confusing consumers.
PETALING JAYA: In the past weeks Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) had come under a barrage of criticism following water disruption in several parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
The water supplier’s technical development executive director V Subramaniam met the media today to dispel all allegations hurled against it by politicians.
The water firm has also released a list of allegations levelled against it and provided answers to the allegations.
Below are excerpts from the list provided by Syabas:
The Menteri Besar of Selangor in his media statement issued on Jan 9, 2013 said that Syabas does not have periodical preventive maintenance for the Variable Speed Drive (VSD) system at Wangsa Maju pumping station as Syabas does not have any periodical maintenance contract with the VSD’s supplier.
This allegation is not true as the maintenance work of the pumping station has been done frequently on monthly basis by Syabas employees. In this regard, if during routine inspection and maintenance work the service of expert including replacement of parts is required, Syabas would engage ABB Malaysia Sdn Bhd (ABB), the manufacturer and distributor of VSD sistem on ad-hoc basis (case to case). The scheduled maintenance program has been submitted to SPAN.
The Menteri Besar also said that the pump trip incident was not due to the failure of the system as the VSD is an intelligent system that is capable of receiving external information such as the status of the motor, pump, vibration, temperature etc.
The statement made by the Menteri Besar of Selangor is totally not true because the VSD system is a vital component of the pump house. The pump trip incident is not due to operations of the VSD. If any of the components in the pump house break down due to operating continuously above its design capacity and/or overload manner for long period of time, the VSD would not start.
In the same media statement issued on Jan 9, the Menteri Besar of Selangor also said that the parts for the pumping system can be procured from China with delivery using courier service, not only from Finland as claimed by Syabas.
In this aspect, Syabas wish to state it was informed verbally by the supplier that the parts are obtained from Finland. Nevertheless, the most pertinent issue is how fast the item can be delivered. In this case one of the parts was delivered after 2 ½ months after the order was issued.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor further said that Syabas failed to identify the cause of the failure of the pumping system at the pump house and further claimed that the investigation by the State Government of Selangor reveals that the Pump No. 2 has been faulty for more than one year without being repaired.
The main cause of the failure of the pump house is due to operating above its design capacity and/or overload manner for long period of time. The breakdown is on the electrical and electronic components. Syabas has the evidence on this as the dedicated log book for the pumping station has the record of all activities performed by the pumping system including the maintenance works undertaken. Copy of the log book has already been forwarded to SPAN which subsequently forms a Special Committee to audit the maintenance work done at the pump house.
As for the Pump No. 2 of the Wangsa Maju Pumping Station, the equipment frequently experiences the breakdown of its VSD system. In all occasions, repair work is carried out by ABB as the repair works also require engineering specialist from the company. Nevertheless, the Pump No. 2 was unable to sustain due to frequent breakdown of its VSD system which causes instability of the Pump, thus becoming less operable. The frequent breakdown and the repeated repair works consumes long period of times. Nevertheless, during the repair period, the pump house is still able to operate above the design capacity in order to meet the treated water demand by the consumers.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor also said that in 2012, Wangsa Maju pumping station was operating above 200 MLD (Million Liters perDay) for a total of 18 days only.
Syabas strongly refutes this allegation because the pump house has the record and statistics that shows the Wangsa Maju pumping station has been operating beyond 200 MLD for a total of 2,023 times in 2012, not merely 18 days as claimed by the Menteri Besar of Selangor.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor in his statement said that the State Government of Selangor has a good knowledge on the failure of the Wangsa Maju pumping station and Syabas has been reminded accordingly but no action was taken.
This statement is totally untrue as the State Government of Selangor has never issued any reminders and/or any notice of similar intent and nature in writing and/or verbally and/or in any form of similar manner.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor also said that Syabas only submitted its application to build additional and new pumping system at Wangsa Maju pumping station in November last year and it was recommended by the State Government early this year.
The allegation made by the Menteri Besar of Selangor is grossly untrue because the proposal to develop additional pumping station at Wangsa Maju was submitted to the Federal Government in June 2009. The same proposal was submitted to the State Government of Selangor in Jan 2010. In both instances, there was no response received by Syabas until March 2012 when the proposal was approved by the Federal Government for implementation. The project which is being implemented by the State Government of Selangor is fully funded by the Federal Government via loan to the State. As of to-date, the development has only reached the design stage.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor also claimed that Syabas states that it has insufficient fund to repair the pump due to no water tariff increase by the people of Selangor. The Menteri Besar further said that the State Government is prepared to repair the breakdown if Syabas has no money and incapable.
Syabas reiterates that it has never issued a statement that says it has no money to repair the pump due to no water tariff increase. Nevertheless, if the State Government of Selangor which holds 30% equity in Syabas is willing to provide fund for the maintenance of the Syabas’ pump houses, such move would be most welcome.
YB Xavier Jayakumar in his statement published by Sinar Harian also said that the State Government construed Syabas as pure negligent and its negligence is criminal in nature and construed that the water supply disruption is a sabotage and organised by Syabas to tarnish the image of the State Government of Selangor. He added that Syabas is incapable of supplying water to the people and pursue profits only by increasing water tariff from time to time.
In the same instances, YB Janice Lee, ADUN Teratai also said that the water issue was up-played by media controlled by Barisan Nasional (BN) to tarnish Pakatan Rakyat Selangor Government whereas it is the failure of Syabas. According to her, the water supply disruption is one of the sabotages by UMNO-BN towards Selangor Government.
Syabas strongly refutes the said allegations due to the followings:-
The failure of Wangsa Maju pumping station is purely due to operating above its design capacity for a long period of time in the recent years in order to supply water to the consumers. The failure is anticipated and has occurred even though the pump house has been continuously maintained periodically.
The shortage of treated water has been made known all the while to all parties and general public. The State Government of Selangor itself has acknowledged the matters is legitimate by forming and putting into action the Special Water Supply Monitoring Committee that has daily and weekly meeting with Syabas chaired by YB Dato’ Kushrin, the State Secretary since July 2012 and followed by the State Government of Selangor’s proposal to build water treatment plant using membrane technology to increase treatment capacity and proposal to activate Bukit Jelutong Water treatment Plant shows that water disruption is not a sabotage and organised by Syabas.
The allegation that the water crisis is organised by Syabas is totally unfounded and uncalled for as there is no people with the right frame of mind would do such a thing especially if it affects public interest and costs its own money million of ringgits to remedy. Syabas has the records and statistics to support the shortage of treated water supply. The same records and statistics have been submitted to the State Government of Selangor as periodical reports and also via audit conducted by the State as well as to the representatives of the State in the Board of Directors of Syabas.
YB Xavier Jayakumar also said that water supply and distribution is the responsibility of Syabas and not the State Government of Selangor as stipulated in the Concession Agreement; and the State Government of Selangor is prepared to stand as witness for the consumers who files claims against Syabas.
Syabas refutes these allegations and reiterates that:-
The fundamental roles and responsibilities of Syabas under the Concession Agreement is to distribute treated water and collect charges in the form of water tariff as gazetted by the government.
The treated water that is sold and supplied by water treatment operators (the private companies which includes SPLASH, Konsortium Abass and Konsortium Air Selangor where the State Government of Selangor is one of the equity holders in these companies. Thus, Syabas is not responsible for determining the water treatment plant capacity.
In the aspects of improvement, enhancement, upgrading and new development of water distribution infrastructure facilities which have been categorised as CAPEX program under the Concession Agreement, it is subjected to approval from SPAN with prior endorsement to be obtained from the State Government and Federal Government. It has been continuously made known to the general public by Syabas that majority of the CAPEX program has been frozen by SPAN on the directives from the State Government of Selangor since May 2008. Thus implementation of works by Syabas on improvement, upgrading and development of new project for water supply distribution infrastructure system have been denied by the State Government of Selangor.
To ensure the operations of water distribution is maintained as per the Concession Agreement, water tariff requires to be adjusted based on the stipulations as stated in the Concession Agreement but the matter has been deferred by the State Government of Selangor. Despite this, Syabas continues its obligations without compromising on the quality of services and regular maintenance of the assets but has to sacrifice the water treatment operator as the payments for the purchase of treated water faces deferrals.
It is not ethical for the State Government of Selangor that holds 30% equity and representatives in the Board of Directors of Syabas encourages consumers to file claims against Syabas whereas the incapability as stated by the State Government of Selangor and the constraints faced by Syabas entirely due to their refusal to grant approval for improvement, upgrading and new development of water distribution infrastructure system (CAPEX Program) proposed by Syabas.
YB Xaviar Jayakumar also claimed that the water supply issues occur because Syabas is arrogant and Syabas refused to work with the State Secretary, YB Dato’ Kushrin for the assistance on additional water tankers from the Municipal Councils. Syabas instead sought help from water supply companies outside Selangor.
Syabas reiterates that the matter has been raised and deliberated in the weekly meeting of Special Water Supply Monitoring Committe formed by the State Government of Selangor. The meeting is chaired by the State Secretary, YB Dato Khusrin or his representative. Thus, it is entirely not true that Syabas did not inform the State Government of Selangor or did not seek the assistance from the Authority.
Despite the fact that the matter was raised and deliberated regularly during the daily State Special Water Supply Monitoring Commitee meeting that the assistance from the State Government could help to reduce the inconvenience faced by the people, the assistance provided to Syabas was less encouraging. The State Government of Selangor through the Municipal Councils (MC) deployed an initial of four water tankers on Jan 5, 2013 which is six days after the water disruption occurs. Subsequently on 6 January 2013 (3 units), 8 January 2013 (4 units), 9 January 2013 (4 units), 10 January 2013 (2 units), 11 January 2013 (10 units), 12 January 2013 (13 units), 13 January2013 (10 units) and 14 January 2013 (2 units). The deployment of water tankers from the MC is inconsistent whereby there were days that no water tankers were deployed to Syabas. In addition, the support provided by the State Government of Selangor is also not comprehensive as volunteers and workforce to assist consumers in taking water were not present. For a big State such as Selangor, logically the number of volunteers should be large and more water tankers should be readily available. What is disappointing also is the water tankers sent by the State Government of Selangor fail when first tested for water quality standard leaving the water tankers unsuitable to carry water supply relief to the areas facing water supply disruption. These water tankers have to be cleaned first until they pass the test on water quality standard before they can be deployed in the field.
YB Zuraidah Kamaruddin, Member of Parliament for Ampang accused Syabas of not taking into consideration the long term planning in developing more effective and reliable management for maintenance, system upgrade, periodical monitoring, effective support system and capable management.
Syabas refutes such allegation and the statement is totally untrue because periodical maintenance of pump houses is part of the annual equipment, instrumentation and facilities for water distribution infrastructure system submitted at the beginning of each calendar year to SPAN for approval as stipulated in the Concession Agreement. The maintenance reports are submitted on six monthly basis to SPAN for monitoring purposes. For upgrading works, rehabilitation works and new development of water distribution infrastructure system, they are part of the CAPEX Program planned by Syabas. With the exception of critical works and routine replacement and maintenance works, the CAPEX Program was frozen by SPAN on the directives from the State Government of Selangor since July 2008. This causes Syabas being unable to implement a large part of the CAPEX program. Thus, by accusing Syabas of not taking into consideration the long term planning in maintenance, system upgrade, periodical monitoring, and support system is entirely unfounded and unfair.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor also said that the water supply disruption proves the awarding of water supply privatisation to unqualified and incompetent company is a failure.
Syabas strongly refutes this allegation and reiterates that the water supply disruption is due to the failure of Wangsa Maju pumping station which has been operating above its design capacity for a long period of time in the recent years in order to meet the increasing treated water demand by the consumers. The failure is anticipated and has occurred even though the pump house has been continuously maintained periodically because it was operating against the stipulated engineering and technical specifications. Despite the facts that have proven its validity, the State Government of Selangor still refuses to accept the fact that the State of Selangor is experiencing shortage of water treatment capacity compared to the demand.
In the same instances, YB Janice Lee (ADUN Teratai) alleged that the water supply problem shows the incompetency of Puncak Niaga and Syabas in managing the water supply operations as it is not the first time for Selangor in facing a water crisis.
Syabas refutes this allegation and reiterates that the Menteri Besar of Selangor and the State Government of Selangor have been informed since 2005 that the demand for treated water in Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya increases annually at the rate of 3.5% and the treatment capacity of the existing water treatment plants is not able to meet the demand forcing some of the 34 water treatment plants to operate continuously beyond its design capacity. The situation is worsened when the treated water capacity reserve is around 1% only. The State Government of Selangor is fully responsible for the water treatment capacity whereas under the Concession Agreement, Syabas is only responsible to distribute to the consumers the treated water supplied and sold by the water treatment operators, the private companies having mandate and absolute right to treat water for and on behalf of the State Government of Selangor.
The failure of Wangsa Maju pumping station is the result of it operating beyond the design capacity for long periods of time in the recent years in order to ensure treated water supply to the designated areas is available for the consumers. The failure is anticipated to occur and it has occurred even though the pump has been continuously maintained periodically. The refusal by the State Government of Selangor in granting the approval for the development of Langat 2 Water Treatment Plant and the delay in implementing the development of additional pumping station approved in March 2012 forces Syabas to operate the pump house beyond design capacity and on the overload manner just to ensure the pump house is able to meet the high demand of treated water from the designated areas.
In addition, the action taken against Puncak Niaga is completely unfair because Puncak Niaga was not involved in this issue. Whereas, it has helped the Sungai Langat Water Treatment Plant to operate at an overload level of up to 520 MLD as compared to the normal level at 470 MLD.
Member of Parliamant of Ampang, YB Zuraidah Kamaruddin in her statement in Sinar Harian alleged Syabas fails to have sufficient back-up water supply for the residents and she further said that Syabas does not have emergency plan to overcome the problem.
The allegation is totally not true as back-up water supply would only be possible if the treated water reserve capacity is sufficient. At present, the treated water supply reserve capacity is less than 1%, far below the industry comfortable level of 20%. The State Government of Selangor is fully responsible to ensure sufficient treated water reserve capacity, not Syabas. The situation in Gombak and Kuala Lumpur under contention can be avoided if the treated water reserve capacity is sufficient.