THE government may introduce a rebate system to compensate consumers for water shortages caused by negligence.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said rebates should be considered if disruptions were the fault of the water supply operators.
The rebate would be reflected in the consumers’ monthly bill, with the costs borne entirely by the operators.
Ongkili said there was no rebate policy in any state now.
He said this was because some disruptions were caused by factors beyond the operators’ control. These included pollution and insufficient raw water.
“Most states also do not have sufficient (water) reserves and are susceptible to frequent supply interruptions if demand increases.”
The performance of water operators is regulated by the National Water Services Commission Malaysia (SPAN).
It was reported that 498 areas involving 546,000 account holders in the Klang Valley were affected by water disruptions due to repair works on critical equipment at Phase 3 Sungai Selangor Water Treatment Plant recently.
Among the areas are Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Gombak, Hulu Selangor and Kuala Langat.
If the water rebate policy is introduced, it will emulate Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) mechanism of compensating consumers for power shortages.
Under the mechanism, domestic consumers in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya who experience power outage for four hours, or more than four times a month, can get a one per cent rebate off their monthly bill, or RM10, whichever is higher.
Commercial consumers are entitled to a one per cent rebate off their monthly bill, or RM300, (whichever is higher); for industry, a 0.5 per cent rebate, or RM1,000 off the monthly bill (whichever is higher), is given.
Electricity consumers in other states can also enjoy this rebate in instances of power outage occurring five times a month, with each lasting four hours or more.
A lawyer who specialises in consumer protection said a rebate mechanism was long overdue.
Xenia Lok said the TNB template was a good case study, but added that an independent party should look into the water mechanism.
“An independent party who is familiar with a similar rebate system is necessary to help work out a formula. But, once the system is in place, it is not necessary for the independent party to oversee the process.
“The relevant authority can set up its own department to monitor the smooth running of the system.”
Lok also said despite not having specific regulations, consumers could still write in to demand or claim a rebate based on their losses due to the disruption.
“As far as legality is concerned, the authority cannot do anything to stop the consumers from claiming rebates.
“However, a specific regulation on the rebate system would certainly make the process more convenient for the consumers.”