Non-essential industries appeal for reopening

PETALING JAYA: As the National Security Council (NSC) meets today to decide on whether to extend the lockdown, a few industries remain in a fix as they have not been allowed to operate, although they could do so during the last two movement control orders.

The Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM) said these included operators of limestone quarries, who would be issuing force majeure to the water treatment and sugar production industries as they had run out of reserves due to the lockdown ban on quarry operations.

(A force majeure seeks to protect a party that can’t fulfil a contract for situations beyond its control.)

CICM executive director Datuk Muhtar Hashim said they were not currently listed as essential although limestone quarries and lime production were allowed to run during the previous two MCOs.

This was despite the fact that water treatment plants and sugar production factories needed their produce to keep operating, he added.

Currently, he said they were only allowed to supply to essential construction projects.

“But for drinking water treatment, lime – both in the form of quicklime (calcium oxide) and hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) – allows water to be softened and purified, its cloudiness and impurities eliminated and its acidity neutralised.

“It also disinfects water by bringing its pH level up to 10.5-11.00, thus lowering the quantity of bacteria and viruses.

“In conventional chemical treatment of industrial inorganic waste water, lime controls the pH, neutralises the acidic waste water, reduces the concentration of oxidisable organic pollutants, clarifies and precipitates dissolved pollutants, among others,” Muhtar added.

In the sugar industry, he said quicklime was used to precipitate impurities in sugar to obtain pure sucrose, adding that they were now running out of reserves of lime.“When we run out completely, it may cause interruptions to water supply and the public would definitely be affected,” he said.

Sugar manufacturers, he added, might have to resort to importing lime, which would then increase the cost of sugar production.

Muhtar also noted that it would take seven days or more to prepare the production equipment to resume operations.

As for theme parks, Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Parks and Family Attractions president Tan Sri Richard CK Koh said the 130 theme parks and water parks in the country were merely asking to be allowed to maintain their equipment and areas.

“We are not asking for NSC to give us permits for operation but only for maintenance services.

“We need to check the running of equipment and prevent it from rusting as our weather has high humidity.

“These rides, costing millions of ringgit with high-tech circuits, are sitting there under the hot sun and rain. Even a car needs to be started once in a while if you are not using it.“I own three water parks. The ponds have all turned green and will soon become black,” he said.

Master Builders Association Malaysia president Tan Sri Sufri Mohd Zin said NSC should review the supply chain to essential services.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said she would take up cases involving industries seeking to maintain their cleanliness so that public health would not be jeopardised.She also urged those industries which deemed themselves as “essential services” to appeal to the Covid-19 Intelligence Management System 3.0 under the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

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