Consumers in northern Sarawak must be prepared to pay more for water as the cost of its delivery has increased.Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said the cost of water treatment has gone up over the years due to the increase in the prices of water treatment chemicals and other costs.
He said apart from the daily costs of water production and distribution, Laku Management Sdn Bhd also has to incur high costs to replace old and leaking pipes.
“The public should understand that although river water is free, it needs to be pumped to be treated before being delivered to the consumers.
“All this involve costs and it is not cheap,” he said when officiating at Laku Annual Dinner 2009 at Mega Hotel on Friday night.
According to him, the government has not revised the water tariff since 1992. In fact, he said, water supplied to domestic consumers in Sarawak is mostly subsidised.
“Although Laku’s operations are not funded by the government, it has to subsidise the water supply to domestic customers. However, this cannot go on forever,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the Lambir water treatment plant will be upgraded to increase its capacity by another 80mld (million litres per day), costing some RM40 million.
He said Laku has to finance the project, so the public should accept these facts and be prepared to pay more for water.
Work on the Lambir project will commence very soon and to ensure reliable supply of raw water in the long term, the ministry will also implement a raw water transfer scheme from Batang Baram under the Tenth Malaysia Plan (10MP).
“With this scheme, we are confident that Miri will not be short of water for a long time to come,” he pointed out.
On a related development, Tengah said his ministry has drawn up a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to gauge the performance of all the water supply authorities in the state.
He said the ministry will be monitoring these KPIs closely and will act to improve the KPIs of each water supply authority.
“At the same time, my ministry and the relevant agencies at state and federal level are busy drawing up the plans and strategies to achieve the NKRA (National Key Result Areas). In this regard, more funds will be provided for to increase our treatment capacity and increase the coverage as well,” he said.
Laku chief executive officer (CEO) Wong Tiong Kai who spoke earlier said the management has embarked on more rigorous meter replacement programme and zone metering since last year to reduce non-revenue water (NRW).
“In Miri, our twelve-month moving average NRW is now 23.1 per cent compared with last year which was 26.7 per cent. We hope to meet the target of 20 per cent set by the government by 2015,” he said.
He added that Laku has invested more than RM85 million over the past years to acquire new facilities and improving the existing facilities in order to meet the water demands in areas it is operating in and to improve its services.
State Assembly Speaker Dato Sri Mohd Awang Asfia Awang Nassar; Assistant Minister of Water Supply, Sylvester Entri Muran; Laku chairman Datu Hubert Thian as well as a Laku director Dato Wee Han Wen were among those present at the dinner.