KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) is planning to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) regarding the high cost of water imposed by private companies.
Its vice president, Datuk Wong Hong Jun, wants the agency to investigate why these companies are allowed to charge consumers such expensive prices.
"We are also considering filing a lawsuit against the state Water Department and the Sabah government for the financial losses incurred by Sabahans due to the purchase of water at significantly higher tariffs," said Wong, who is also the Tanjung Aru assemblyman.
Wong stated that the private companies were exploiting the dire situation of frequent supply disruptions by selling treated water at inflated rates.
The issue of expensive water charges by a private company came to light when a letter from a government-owned hospital, addressed to Community Development and People's Wellbeing Minister Datuk James Ratib, went viral on social media.
The letter revealed that a bill of RM145,490.50 was imposed by a private company for supplying water to the Sabah Women and Children Hospital (SWCH) in Likas during a 23-day water disruption period.
In response, James held a meeting with Sabah Health director Dr Asits Sanna and SWCH director Dr Marcus Netto to resolve the issue yesterday.
James, who is also the Sabah State Health Exco, called for the establishment of a special committee to address problems related to water and electricity supplies in hospitals across Sabah.
However, Wong questioned why private companies are allowed to sell water at higher rates during supply disruptions.
He mentioned that the Sabah Water Supply Enactment 2003 allows the Water Department to issue licences for water distribution with tariffs determined by the department.
Wong cited another case where residents of a condominium in Kota Kinabalu had been purchasing water from a private company at prices 10 times higher than those charged by the Water Department for two months, ranging from RM1.14 to RM11.40 per cubic metre.
"Another case is the Lok Kawi Light Industrial Park in Kinarut, which has been charged RM30 per cubic metre compared to RM1.60 per cubic metre by the Water Department," he said.
Wong added that he had repeatedly raised the issue during State Legislative Assembly sittings and in the media, but received no response.
Meanwhile, Elopura assemblyman Calvin Chong stated that a private company had sold water at RM900 per tanker truck, equivalent to around 3,000 litres, to several residential areas two days ago in Sandakan.
This occurred after the district experienced water disruptions for nine days due to faulty water pumps at the Segaliud Water Treatment Plant.
Similarly, Sri Tanjung assemblyman Justin Wong said that a private company was selling water at RM600 per tanker in Tawau.
Wong questioned where the private company obtained its water supply if the Water Department's supply was disrupted.