HUNDREDS of high-rise residential premises in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya continue to pay more on their water bills compared to those on landed properties.
Despite the deadline for the migration of bulk water meters to individual ones having expired in January after a one-month extension, a large majority of the Joint Management Bodies (JMB) and Management Corporation (MC) at these high-rises have yet to make the switch.
Consequently, the residents are subjected to pay the standard RM1.38sen per cu metre plus additional charges imposed by some JMBs or MCs.
In comparison, those with individual meters are charged according to the consumption, from as low as 57sen for the first 10 cu metres, RM1.03sen per cu metre between 20 and 35 cu metres and RM2 each cu metre for usage above 35 cu metres.
It is believed that JMBs and MCs are unwilling to initiate the migration for fear of them losing control over the management of the properties.
For example, the threat of their water supply being disconnected is a way to effectively convince residents to settle their maintenance fees arrears.
However, with individual water meters, residents will pay their water bills directly to Syabas.
Another roadblock in the meter migration is the failure of JMBs and MCs to meet Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor’s (Syabas) technical requirements on the pipe network and leakage in the system, besides their delay in compiling information on the property owners.
Low-cost flats owners will be required to pay a deposit of RM50 and another RM40 for meter installation, while those living in apartments and condominiums will be charged RM70 as deposit and RM40 for installation.
Syabas revealed that only 18% of high-rise premises had completed the migration process, which included installation of the individual water meters.
According to the utility company’s figures, only 460 bulk meter accounts in high-rise residential buildings have been migrated to individual meter accounts as of Dec 31, 2014. This makes 99,613 individual water accounts.
Syabas corporate communications and public affairs general manager Priscilla Alfred said there were a total of 2,569 bulk meter accounts in Syabas’ record.
She said 1,404 bulk meter residential accounts under Tariff Code 17 and 18 had applied for migration to individual meters as of end November 2013.
“From that number, 599 bulk meter accounts have completed the application process to create 123,928 individual meter accounts.
“Another 756 application covering 150,033 households are still pending because of technical issues,” she said, adding that the application had been left in the hands of the JMBs to act on.
Alfred said the company had yet to receive any application from the other 1,165 bulk meter accounts.
“It is estimated that these accounts will convert into some 200,000 individual meters.”
“We urge unit owners to work hand-in-hand with their JMBs or MCs to get the process started so that residents would not be paying higher water bills compared with those with individual meters,” she added.
Alfred pointed out that Syabas first mooted the initiative of meter migration in July 2007 and had been working very hard to ensure more of the bulk meter accounts were migrated.
“It has been a big a challenge and extra work on our side but we have been pushing hard for the migration of meters so that the consumers will be the biggest beneficiaries,” she added.
Bulk meters have given rise to numerous problems, chief of which is innocent residents being victimised by water bill defaulters.
Among the most recent instances is the case at Desa Mentari, where 1,800 units in three blocks owe Syabas nearly RM179,800.
The thousands who have been paying on time are also at risk of water cut because errant residents among them fail to settle what is due.
REAPING THE BENEFITS
Occupants at high-rise residential premises where migration of bulk water meters have been successfully implemented, are enjoying substantial reductions on their water bills.
In most cases, the residents are enjoying between 30% and 50% savings on their bills. A quick survey by StarMetro found some of the residents are now benefitting from the Selangor Government’s free 20 cu metre of water per household policy.
K. Uma Asukumar of Palm Ville Condominium in Puchong said he was happy that the meter migration had enabled him to enjoy a substantial reduction on his water bill.
“It has reduced from RM36 previously to RM15 now.
“Last month, my bill was zero because our usage was within the free amount given,” he said.
Louis Teh said her water bill had reduced from RM90 in the past to RM30 now with the individual meter.
Sri Pinang Aparments JMB chairman Datuk Fauruddin Daud said 177 of the 196 units in Taman Nirvana Villa were enjoying the benefit of the migration of bulk to individual meters since three years ago.
He said the residents had been seeing big savings on their water bills and it had also helped the JMB to foster a closer rapport with them.
“We worked very hard to get the migration process completed and the move has paved the way for the residents to know the JMB better,” he said, adding that the residents had been very cooperative since then and the JMB faced fewer obstacles in collecting the monthly maintenance fee.
Sri Anggerik 1 Puchong Jaya JMB head K. Mary said “We are happy for the opportunity to help ease the burden of the residents.”