SEBERANG PERAI, June 18 — Some residents in Nibong Tebal who previously had to carry buckets of water for daily use due to water disruptions have now been hit with unusually high water bills of even over RM1,500.
According to Taman Widuri Water Crisis Action Committee chairman Sazali Kamay, a few residents in the housing area were shocked to receive unusually high water bills when they have been facing daily water disruptions for close to a year.
“My usual water bill was around RM20 but my water bill suddenly went up to more than RM700 which is unusual when I don’t even get a constant water supply,” he said during a dialogue session with Nibong Tebal MP Datuk Mansor Othman and representatives from National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).
He said he was initially unaware of the unusually high bill as his son had paid his utility bills for him.
“It was after he paid it that I found out, otherwise I would have submitted a complaint to PBAPP instead of paying for water that I don’t even get,” he said.
He said he checked with other residents in the housing area and another resident had complained that their bill went up from RM20 to over RM1,500.
“It is bad enough that we don’t get regular water supply but we are hit with high water bills, are we supposed to pay for empty air coming out of our pipes?” he asked.
He said he is now in the process of collecting the bills from affected residents to submit complaints to PBAPP.
Sazali, who is also the Taman Widuri Residents Association chairman, said there are about 1,300 houses in the housing estate.
“At least 29 lanes in our housing area are facing critical water issues, sometimes they only get water supply between 2am and 6am,” he said.
This is despite PBAPP’s assurance that the residents in Nibong Tebal and South Seberang Perai affected by low water pressure and water disruptions will be getting water supply from 6pm to 6am daily.
He said the provision of static water tanks was also insufficient as many of the residents in the housing area are elderly and could not carry buckets from tanks that are situated far from their homes.
“We would like to ask that more tanks be provided so that it is more accessible, especially for the elderly whose children are not living with them,” he said.
Over 3,459 water consumers out of 32,000 registered consumers in South Seberang Perai were identified by PBAPP as facing water disruptions.
Mansor said PBAPP has mobilised six water tank lorries to distribute water to the affected residents and placed 40 static tanks in the affected areas.
“My office has approved an additional 15 tanks to be placed in the affected areas,” he said.
He said the Universiti Sains Malaysia Nibong Tebal campus is also affected by water issues so four of the water tanks will be placed at the campus.
Mansor, who is also Deputy Environment and Water Minister, instructed PBAPP to look into the issue of the unusually high water bills.
“We have held meetings with the residents, SPAN and PBAPP on this issue and I am glad to see that PBAPP is putting in place several measures including a long-term solution that will resolve this water issue once and for all,” he said.
He said PBAPP’s plan to upgrade the Bukit Panchor water treatment plant will provide more water supply to the affected areas He said once the project is completed in eight to nine months’ time, it will increase the water output by several million litres per day (MLD) which could solve most of the water shortage issues in Nibong Tebal.
“Pending the project, I hope PBAPP will ensure the static water tanks are constantly refilled and that more water tank lorries are dispatched to provide water directly to those affected,” he said.
“I have also instructed SPAN to monitor the situation and to take action when necessary to resolve this issue,” he said.