Residents seek compensation

RESIDENTS of Menara Bakti in Section 1, Petaling Jaya, want Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) to refund them for four years’ worth of overpaid water bills.

The total amount for 126 units are about RM46,000 and the owners are seeking an 80% refund from the water concessionaire.

Since 2011, the condominium’s joint management corporation (JMC) has been paying an average excess of about RM1,000 a month, a figure based on the reading from the building’s bulk meter.

For all high-rise residential buildings fitted with individual water meters like Menara Bakti, Syabas still takes the reading from the bulk meter along with readings from all individual meters.

Syabas will then bill the difference between the bulk meter’s reading and the individual meters reading to the JMC.

“The difference in reading is way too high as there is hardly any usage on our common property grounds and we did not detect any leakage,” said JMC treasurer Christine Chang.

Having been the treasurer for eight years now, Chang who moved to the apartment in 1991, said they realised the overcharge since 2011, when Syabas started to bill the residents and JMC separately.

Previously, residents paid a minimum fee of RM8 per month to the JMC who will then make payments to Syabas.

“We did not notice this earlier because we did not know the difference between the bulk meter and total readings of the individual meters,” said Chang.

She believes the reading on the bulk meter should tally with the individual meters and even if there was a difference in reading, it should not amount to RM1,000 a month.

Chang had made several complaints to Syabas since 2011 and finally managed to get the faulty bulk meter changed in September 2015.

Since then, the bulk meter’s reading had reduced to only the minimum tariff payment of RM173 a month.

“We had no choice but to pay the high bills every month as Syabas had cut our water supply once when we refused to pay the high amount,” she said.

Now, residents are seeking compensation from 2011, when they started complaining about the faulty meter.

Apart from that, Syabas also increased their water tariff from RM1.38 per cubic meter (residential rate) to RM2.07 (commercial rate) for the first 35 cubic meters. RM2.28 will be charged for the subsequent cubic meters.

Chang argued that Syabas should not charge the JMC commercial rate for water used in the high-rise building’s common grounds and facilities as it was for residential use.

Back in 2011, Chang raised the matter to Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv, who assisted residents in holding a meeting with Syabas.

“I am happy that Syabas finally agreed to change the faulty bulk meter, and now I hope they will also compensate residents,” said Rajiv.

Both Chang and Rajiv had requested for the refund since early this year but to no avail.

“There have been numerous talks with Syabas but nothing came of it,” he said.

Rajiv said he would follow up with Syabas over the matter and if it was not settled, he would raise the matter at the state assembly sitting in August.

“Previously I had highlighted to the state government the issue of JMBs and JMCs being charged commercial tariff, and was told that the tariff would be revised after the water restructuring exercise is completed,” he said.

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