KOTA TINGGI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi opened the Semangar plant near here yesterday to mark the end of Johor’s dependence on Singapore for treated water for the past 77 years.
He said the opening of the plant was more than just marking a new chapter in the nation’s history.
It also proved Malaysian companies could provide good facilities for the people, he said.
“This is a success story that we should all be proud of. The people of Johor can now enjoy clean water that is treated by a local company,” he said.
SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd, which manages the plant, had invested RM650mil on the project which will provide 160 million litres of water a day to users in the state, with an excess of about 30 million litres daily.
The project's next phase would increase the capacity to more than 320 million litres daily.
Commending SAJ Holdings, Abdullah said he was satisfied with its commitment to reduce non-revenue water losses from 30% to 10% over the next few years and reminded it to always maintain the quality of treated water supplied to consumers. The late Sultan Ibrahim of Johor signed an agreement with the Commissioner of the Singapore Municipal Council to buy treated water from the republic on Dec 5, 1927.
The council was given the right to use water at the Gunung Pulai catchment area for free and to sell it to Johor at 25 sen per 1,000 gallons, not exceeding 1,200 gallons a day.
Another agreement was signed on Sept 1, 1961, allowing Singapore to draw raw water from Sungai Skudai and Sungai Tebrau at three sen per 1,000 gallons until 2011, while a third agreement, signed on Sept 29, 1962 allowed the republic to draw water from Sungai Johor for up to 250 million gallons daily at three sen per 1,000 gallons.
Under the 1961 and 1962 agreements, Johor bought treated water at a rate of 50 sen per 1,000 gallons and up to 37 million gallons daily from Singapore’s Public Utilities Board for Johor Baru, Kota Tinggi and Pontian. At another function in Kluang, Abdullah instructed all state governments to give their co-operation to the Agriculture Ministry to open up more modern and large-scale farms.
The state governments should not impose any conditions or restrictions when offering their land for such projects, he said when launching a modern agriculture project at the Padang Hijau Livestock Breeding Centre, near Batu 11 Kahang here.
The project, a joint venture between the ministry and 20 private companies, includes livestock breeding, farming, fisheries, recreation and agro-tourism.
At a dinner in honour of his working visit to Johor last night, Abdullah reminded Barisan Nasional component parties to be prepared at all times for the general election although he had yet to decide when it should be held.
“Please don’t ask me when (the election is). It is a difficult question for me to answer but the most important thing is that if it is held tomorrow, we are prepared. If it is held later, we are even more prepared.
“We must face the election with our strength, which is our good track record and our commitment to work together for the people,” he said.
“I'm confident that Barisan can continue to experience 100% victory in Johor and the rakyat will not hesitate to give their support,” he added.
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