DEEPAVALI was when the water supply disruption in Selangor began.
To say that it was an inconvenience for those celebrating the Hindu festival of lights is an understatement.
Deprived of water, because the disruption lasted long enough to deplete their water tanks, affected residents were unhappy. As there was no notification, no water was stored.
The situation was intolerable. Of course, the number of people in the household is an important factor.
But, Malaysians are a patient lot and the children thought it was fun when the tankers came round.
Their loud chatter alerted the street of the lorries’ arrival.
However, a one-off disruption even if it lasted two days was tolerable, but this month has seen continuous disruptions that were blamed on maintenance work at treatment plants.
This coming Monday, “more than 3.8 million people in the Klang Valley” will face water disruption, albeit scheduled and will last for 16 hours starting at 8am.
A total of 814 areas will be affected including Petaling district, Klang, Shah Alam, Gombak, Kuala Langat, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Unfortunately, while the disruption will be immediate, restoration will be gradual — it will be longer for some, especially those on high ground.
Why the disruption? According to the National Water Services Commission, Tenaga Nasional Bhd will be carrying out maintenance work, which includes the installation of a protective arch system at the Bukit Badong substation in Hulu Selangor.
This statement is a bit of a puzzle: whose maintenance, TNB’s or the water treatment plant’s? Presuming that it is TNB’s installations that are cutting the electricity supply then surely there will be more than water supply disruptions.
Will there be power outages in parts of Selangor? According to reports there will be power outages on Sunday in parts of Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, factory districts in Klang and Penang island.
Rumours have been rife on social media that there will be a nationwide outage on Sunday. This alert issued by TNB is part of the denial but power outages have happened intermittently since yesterday and will last until Monday.
Monday’s outage will reach Pontian, Johor. Granted it is not a blanket outage but it is going far beyond the Klang Valley.
What irks the consumer is the unannounced disruptions. Utility companies are obliged to notify the public — their consumers — about supply disruptions, well in advance, so that preparations can be made: water can be stored and those working from home can find online connections elsewhere.
Surely maintenance work is not ad hoc in nature. Factories, especially, cannot afford disruptions that last for hours. The impact on the economy can be enormous especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
How many of them have redundant systems that can kick in when supply disruptions happen? The SMEs form the backbone of the real economy. As to foreign concerns, continuous supply disruptions will make Malaysia unattractive as a foreign direct investment destination.
Already Selangor’s water shortage has forced companies to go elsewhere. Power outages will aggravate the problem.