PETALING JAYA: Murky tap water and irregular supply are mainly why many people in Kelantan refuse to pay their water bills, says Charles Santiago, the former head of the National Water Services Commission (SPAN).
He said state authorities must improve water quality and supply if they want people to pay for it.
Santiago told FMT that Kelantan’s water woes had been well-documented over the years.
On Wednesday, it was reported that consumers owed Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) more than RM28.5 million in unpaid water bills as of Sept 30.
State works, infrastructure, transport and utilities committee chairman Azami Nor said RM18.4 million was the current debt owed by consumers.
Santiago said the Kelantan authorities must reform the management of water resources and improve their services.
“Invest in upgrading infrastructure, ensure on-time delivery and provide safe drinking water that is also affordable before expecting consumers to pay their debt,” he said.
“If it’s a one-off circumstance (poor service delivery), people are willing to forgive. But it is an ongoing problem and people can’t accept it.”
Malaysia Consumers Movement vice-president Beninder Johl said many in Kelantan were struggling with the high cost of living, and AKSB should look into ways to encourage people to pay their bills.
He said the company should engage with consumers to increase awareness of the water supply process and the importance of settling their bills.