In the recent Selangor Budget 2017 debate, I chose to focus on pipe replacements among a few other items. For 2016, YAB Azmin Ali has proposed RM100.6 million for the purposes of pipe replacement projects, probably the biggest pipe replacement budget of any state in Malaysia. That is a laudable move, especially since this is something that Syabas has neglected for many years while under private ownership.
However, I hope the state government will consider aiming higher. Every year, there are between 5,000 to 6,000 burst pipe incidents in Selangor, averaging around 100 cases a week.
Every incident of burst pipe causes tremendous hardships on the homes and businesses affected, especially areas which suffer more than their fair share of incidents. The disruption affects homes - cooking, washing, household chores are all affected whenever there is water disruption.
Sometimes, when the repair is difficult and exceeds a day, the recovery time is very long, and people have to resort to taking showers and homes of friends and family, a situation that should not happen in a developed state.
Asbestos-Cement (AC) pipes are only 6,000km out of the 28,000km of pipes in Selangor, but they account for approximately half of all burst pipes every year, and we need to focus on getting these replaced. Pipe replacement, by rule of thumb, cost RM900,000 to RM1,000,000 per km.
I propose that this increase in capacity be planned to reach target of RM500 million a year (500km/year) worth of pipe replacement works, as we have a huge backlog to catch up. Even if we replace pipes at the rate of 500km per year, it would take us more than 10 years to catch up with the backlog of works, a backlog that exist because Syabas while in private ownership failed to fulfill their duty to replace aging pipe and reduce these incidents of burst pipes.
In order to achieve this level of pipe replacement, proper and careful planning is necessary. Air Selangor Sdn Bhd, who has recently taken over the water supply industry, should ramp up its capacity and planning, identifying the most critical areas in need of pipe replacement.
Pengurusan Aset Air Sdn Bhd (PAAB), a federal government agency, should also not delay in extending the necessary financing for Selangor to embark on this pipe replacement projects. By right, the full cost of all pipe replacement projects should be fully financed by PAAB, but the delays in such financing has forced the Selangor government to dip into its reserves to spend RM100.6 million to get this replacement moving along.
We need to prepare to carry out pipe replacement at as faster pace for when financing from PAAB becomes available. This is crucial to reduce the incidents of burst pipes moving forward as we develop into a first world state.
RAJIV RISHYAKARAN is state assemblyperson for Bukit Gasing, Selangor.