I FEEL that it is the duty of every citizen to settle their dues for sewerage services that have been rendered by Indah Water Konsortium (IWK). However, when citizens refuse to settle the charges, it is important to find out why this is a problem peculiar to Malaysia and not in other countries like Singapore and Australia, which have a similar system.
Perhaps the reasons are as follows:
AT one time, the sewerage charges were included in the assessment notices, which every property owner had to settle before the due dates.
In view of this, when IWK started issuing sewerage charges, is it not reasonable for a corresponding reduction in the assessment charges? Quite obviously, many citizens think that they have been charged twice; and,
I UNDERSTAND that most of the unpaid charges are for commercial properties and that there is widespread unhappiness over the method of charging.
In other countries, the charges are based on the water usage. Malaysia is the only country in the region that charges based on the annual value of the property.
This is not fair and reasonable as you are charged whether you use their services or not. IWK has to review the method of calculating the sewerage charges.
I am surprised that IWK has not taken the trouble to address this in spite of numerous complaints in the press.
The general perception is that IWK could not care less about customer service and is only interested in using the legal process to collect the bills. Hence the reluctance of the majority of citizens to pay the bills.
I suggest these measures:
REVIEW the current method of charging sewerage fees and base it on water usage. This will make people avoid wasting water as well;
ISSUE credit notes to cancel the outstanding charges since these are clearly excessive;
LIAISE with local authorities to reflect a corresponding reduction in local rates;
IMPROVE efficiency of IWK to reduce operating costs. The general perception is that it is run as a government department with heavy overheads;
APPOINT an independent consultant to give a report on how IWK's operations can be streamlined and improved;
THE chief executive officer's terms of office should be based on clear key performance indicators to achieve profitability;
THE press should be allowed more information on IWK's operations so that the public is fully informed of its activities; and,
IWK should find out why Singapore has managed its sewerage services without much problem and adopt its good practices.
If this matter is handled properly, I am sure all citizens will only be too happy to settle the sewerage charges.
The common reason for not paying is when the amount charged is grossly excessive and unreasonable. The challenge to IWK is to address these issues without delay. I hope that in due course all citizens will pay the sewerage charges without having to resort to legal action.
IWK should handle this matter carefully as it affects millions of citizens and if badly handled, it can have serious consequences.