PETALING JAYA: The national water services commission (SPAN) plans to hold more meetings with residents in areas plagued by water supply problems, following the success of a similar initiative in Langkawi recently.
SPAN chairman Charles Santiago said that although the commission primarily regulates water companies, it is equally concerned with complaints on access to treated water, which he described as a fundamental right.
Santiago said SPAN intended to be a mediator in resolving problems faced by consumers.
“It is an interventionist policy, where we bring the affected parties, the water providers and SPAN for a discussion. We are not just about regulating the industry but making sure the industry works in the best interest of the people,” he told FMT.
The commission recently visited an estate in Kisap, Langkawi, where close to 3,000 residents suffered irregular water supply and problems of access to clean water for almost two years.
The water cuts had even made it difficult for one family to carry out funeral rites, Santiago said.
He said the residents had no water during Deepavali, for the second consecutive year, leading to a protest outside the office of Kedah water supply company Syarikat Air Darul Aman Sdn Bhd (Sada).
Santiago said Sada had previously asked for some time to solve the problem “but one month became two and then two months became two years”.
He said the meeting with residents in Kisap led to plans for increasing the number of water tanks and the construction of a water treatment plant in the area.
“When it comes to water, there is no negotiation – people need water to survive,” he said.
Santiago said he hoped that similar meetings would help those in rural areas and marginalised or vulnerable communities an avenue to air their grouses and connect with water supply companies.
“It is 2023, and it is unacceptable that such communities still face fundamental challenges, such as regular access to water,” he said.