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SPAN’s Press Statement on NRW is Misleading and Against The National Water Services Industry Restructuring Outlined by Federal Government




Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) rejects certain explanation placed in the press statement released by Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) that can be viewed by public in their website.

SPAN was formed to prevent water services industry from collapsing due to below standard performance, financial problems and high Non-Revenue Water (NRW). The Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara Act 2006 (SPAN Act) has outlined the function of the commission clearly. Section 15 (d) spells out that SPAN needs to increase concerted efforts towards improving the operational efficiency of the industry and in particular the reduction of non-revenue water through short term, medium term and long term programmes. This is further supported by Section 15 (b) and (c).

If SPAN could not prepare AWER’s proposed ‘National NRW Reduction Action Plan’, how can they carry out their function stipulated in Section 15 (d)? If there are no specific targets set for each states, what is SPAN going to achieve? Technical guidelines, standards and holistic planning are part of SPAN’s functions and they cannot leave the job to water services operators (water companies) to do it. They were formed to reduce NRW as spelled out in the SPAN Act. This is further strengthened by Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA) which all water services industry except in Sabah and Sarawak must adhere to. The Sections 29, 36, 41, 132, 134, 135, 138, 139, 177, 178, 179, 180 and many more parts in WSIA gives direct power to SPAN in carrying out its functions.

As an example, water pressure control is one of the methods deployed by water operators during non-peak demand period. But due to NRW problem, there are junctures in piping systems that may suck in water from outside the piping system and contaminate the treated water. This is also based on Bernoulli’s principle. As a technical regulator, SPAN must set the procedures and guideline to ensure water quality is not compromised. To realise this, SPAN must prepare the National NRW Reduction Action Plan and definitely not to let water operators to tell SPAN what to do.

Secondly, all pipes and meters are paid through tariff. During pipe and meter changing as well as other leakages repair work, a lot of polymer and metal based materials are replaced. The cost of removing these materials are already part and parcel of the maintenance cost. These materials have economic values. Under the WSIA, the recovery of cost must be calculated back into the tariff setting. It is not direct profit for the industry. What has happened to this? How much money has been recovered by these companies so far? Does SPAN have the details as they have all the rights under WSIA to have this numbers with them?

The SPAN’s press statement also mentioned that the NRW target levels will be reviewed time to time after the whole restructuring is completed. This just proves the ad-hoc way of their operation. The current issue is that the national water services restructuring is delayed and it is suppose to be completed during 9th Malaysia Plan (year 2006 - 2010). The delay is now ‘successfully’ entering the second year. Members of public can read our publication titled, “National Water Services Industry Restructuring – The Truth” at www.awer.org.my for more information about water services industry restructuring and their rights as the end users.

The Chairman and members of SPAN must take full responsibility of the functions entrusted to them and not just give reasons. AWER will officially write in to YB Dato’ Sri Peter Chin Fah Kui, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water to get clarification of the contradicting and confusing statement issued by SPAN. As a qualified lawyer and the minister in charge, AWER believes he would be able to exercise the power given to him under Section 18 of the SPAN Act to instruct SPAN to carry out its functions accordingly.

Every drop counts.

Piarapakaran S.
Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER)

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