Zahid: Putrajaya can manage water supply, if states can’t

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaking to the people of Bagan Datuk in Perak, today.

By D. Kanyakumari

PETALING JAYA: State governments that cannot manage their water supply should hand over such responsibility to the Federal government, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

Though he did not mention any states by name, it is believed he was alluding to Selangor where there were major disruptions to the water supply earlier this year.

“I am not making fun or ridiculing any party, but I am asking all of you, the people, to not give these governments any more chances, because the people have suffered enough.

“If you can’t manage the water supply, hand it over to the federal government or take a lesson or two from the Perak Water Department (LAP),” he said during an event in Simpang Empat in Bagan Datuk today.

Zahid added that the people have a right to regular water supply, hence there should never be a shortage or disruption of such supply.

“How can a tropical country not have enough water supply. Look at Perak, no matter the weather, people never had to live off pails.

“The answer is simple. It is because the management of the available water supply is poor and when that happens they just point fingers,” he said.

He added that if a state government decided to take over the responsibility from water concessionaires, it was then unfair to expect people to tolerate water shortages every year.

Zahid said that the water issue should not be politicised and added that governments, be it state or federal, had a responsibility to the people.

“So it’s simple, let the federal government take over these states. Do not keep giving chances to these people,” he said, referring to the Pakatan Harapan-led Selangor government.

RM58.4 million underground water project

Speaking of the underground water project in Bagan Datuk, he said he will write a letter to the Perak Water Department (LAP) to approve RM58.4 million for it.

He explained that the implementation coordination unit (ICU) of the state has allocated RM500,000 for the project.

“Though this is highly appreciated, I must say that the allocation is not sufficient. According to the master plan, sufficient water supply to the six water tanks in Bagan Datuk will cost RM58.4 million.

“Not that it will be an issue for ICU to give the money because I will personally write a letter to the director of ICU to give the necessary allocation,” he said.

He added that LAP only needs to manage the water supply and payment by the public and stressed that the government will inject the capital cost for the project.

“You don’t have to inject capital cost. You can just send the bill to Putrajaya.

“The bill has to be paid promptly as we would like to contribute to the profitability of LAP,” he said.

Zahid stressed that the underground water project was important to ensure that there was sufficient water supply in the district especially during festive seasons and for industrial purposes.

“Underground water is not affected by the climate and if we don’t use it, I would say that we are not making use of the natural resources available to us,” he said.