Economy

Replacing pipes no reason for tariff increase

Kindly allow me to comment on the recently announced water tariff hike. Imagine that the next increase will be 37% in three years time, January 2009. That will definitely shock all consumers and cabinet members will fall off their chairs.

Can they not approve the hike of 37%? It is time the cabinet find out how these terms were negotiated.

As an old engineer and contractor, I cannot understand the logic of paying Syabas (by increasing the water tariff rate) for changing leaking pipes in order to reduce current non-revenue water by about 40%. Any contractor would be laughing all the way to the bank if given this profitable contract.

If the cost of the new pipes is depreciated over the life span of about 25 years, the water saved over that period must be worth a lot more than the pipe replacement cost. The contractor does not need to construct additional filtration facilities and he also does not need to pay the extra cost of damming the river to get additional water supply.

It should be profitable even without the rate increase. Why did the authorities accept these terms and did not protect consumers’ interest?

A few months ago, I wrote to the Perak Water Board when it announced the 15% increase. I pointed out the same reasoning as above, but I did not receive any response.

A few months ago, the contract to build the Second Penang Bridge was awarded to UEM Bhd without an open competitive tender. Do you realise how this decision will affect all the people who will be paying toll for the use of the bridge? The people must have the right to know the cost of the bridge.

When will the bridge be completed? What is the toll rate and when will the toll collection stop? At this stage, the authorities cannot give us the answers. Why? It looks like the government has given a blank cheque to the contractor and he has not filled in the figures and stated his terms.

Why does the government continue to award large contracts without open competitive tenders? The authorities are not protecting consumers’ interest.

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