Poser over water issue

The women’s toilet at Pasar Besar in Alor Setar, Kedah, is closed because there is no water supply. The problem has been going on for sometime now and is yet to be solved. — Photo: G.C. TAN/The Star

EVERY morning, the sun may have hardly risen but Pasar Besar in Alor Setar, Kedah will be transformed into a hive of activity, with traders and locals bargaining over the prices.

From meat, fish and seafood to fruits, vegetables and dry items, it is a typical scene of a wet market.

However, frequent shoppers and the traders in this old market will have to bear with the daily water disruption.

Although the problem has been going on for a few years, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

But with the general election around the corner, politicians from both sides of the divide are raising the water issue to gain support for their campaigns.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir visited the market last Saturday and found even the new toilets with low water supply.

“Inconsistent water supply in Pasar Besar has been a longstanding problem, and we find that sometimes the lack of water can last for extended periods of time.

“And this water problem is not just within this market alone, but it is happening all over Kedah,” he told reporters.

Mukhriz hit out at the current Kedah state government, claiming there was already an allocation for the matter but that the authorities were “insincere” in trying to fix the problem.

“If we win Kedah in the elections, we promise to settle the water problem immediately,” he said.

His comments did not go down well with Umno politicians here, who were quick to remind him that the water problems had been raised when Mukhriz himself was the Mentri Besar.

Kuala Kedah Umno deputy chief Datuk Abdul Mutalib Harun said the matter had been raised in 2014, but was only looked into after Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah took over as Mentri Besar.

“Complaints on basic facilities at the market such as the lights and fans were only resolved in 2016 after the new Mentri Besar took over.

“If you want proof, do check the documents from the municipal council,” he said.

Abdul Mutalib added that Syarikat Air Darul Aman had in 2016 changed the main pipes at the market while the municipal council had also drawn up new piping plans.

Kedah Mentri Besar’s political secretary Datuk Saiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin said the Federal Government’s funding of RM2.3bil had been used to help resolve the water issue, including the Jeniang Transfer and Naok dam that will resolve water issues in Sik and Pendang.

“The allocation was also marked for the upgrading of five water treatment plans in Alor Setar, Merbok, Baling, Yan and Pendang.

“Tender for all five projects are expected to be issued in July and with that, I believe the state’s water issues can be resolved by 2020,” he said.

While politicians are playing the blame game, all the traders want is for the water supply to return to normal, so they can run their business without any hindrance.

“It seems unfair that we are still paying utility bills but we are not getting the amount of water that we should be getting,” said one trader.

Another trader said she manages with whatever water she gets for the day, but will have to bring in stored water of her own.

“Water is essential to our trade, how long are we supposed to continue like this?” she said.

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