KOTA BARU: Consumers here are wary that they may end up as losers in the spat between the state and federal governments over water management.
Consumers interviewed here said all they wanted was better quality water for their daily needs, regardless of whether the state or Federal Government ran the water supply.
More than half of the 380,000 residents here depend on tube wells because they claimed that the water supply over the years had been inconsistent or unreliable.
To top it all, the quality of the water was also not at par with that of other states and this prompted the majority of the residents here, who make up 60% of water consumers in Kelantan, to look for alternative sources.
Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB), which supplies treated water to more than 180,000 users here, charges 40 sen monthly for the use of between one and 20 cubic litres of water.
Consumers who use between 21 and 40 cubic litres are required to pay 75 sen and a flat rate of RM1.05 is charged for the use of more than 41 cubic metres of water monthly.
Industries are charged RM1.25 for one cubic metre of water used.
AKSB has so far completed, or is in the process of implementing, water projects in Chicha, Pulai Chondong and Pasir Puteh, using a RM300mil federal grant.
For years now, piped water has been the bane of consumer complaints, ranging from murky and rusty water and low water pressure owing to old pipes that need to be replaced.
A consumer, who declined to be named, said he was worried that the issue would boil over and the people would become victims of the dispute between the state and federal governments.
“I am afraid the issue will turn out to be like the classic Malay proverb, Gajah sama gajah berjuang, pelanduk mati di tengah-tengah (When two elephants fight, it is the deer that gets trampled in the middle).
“If the federal allocation is not coming, I doubt that the water situation in Kelantan will change,” he said.
Consumer Ahmad Ali, 45, from Pasir Tumboh, said he did not mind if the federal government took over the state’s water management as long as the tariffs were maintained at their present level.
“At present, I am paying an average of 40 sen per cubic metre of water. What I am worried about is that the present water tariff might rise should the federal government take over the water management,” he said.
Another consumer, Wan Kamaruddin Mokhtar, 50, said it did not matter whether the federal or the state government managed the water supply as he normally gets water from tube wells he dug several years ago.
Teacher Muhairene Mohammed, 32, from Pengkalan Chepa, said at times the water supplied was a murky or rusty colour and not suitable for drinking or washing.