KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The looming 80-hour water cut starting on Wednesday (April 24) in several parts of Klang Valley is causing anxiety among all consumers - even those in areas not named in the list released publicly.
The advance one-week notice from Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) on the water supply disruption starting on Wednesday until Saturday, seems to have increased fear rather than lessened them.
Syabas has told consumers to store enough water to last for two days, as the mobile tankers will be deployed only from Friday.
Many households in Klang, which is one of the affected districts, have been storing extra water at home and filling tumblers with drinking water.
In Taman Maznah, Klang, housewife Azizah Talib, 62, began to fill up water for drinking as soon as she completed cooking on Tuesday afternoon.
"I decided to store drinking water a little earlier, as I am not sure what time supply will stop," she said.
Others are stocking up on mineral water, which is sold out in numerous shops.
Shah Alam resident J. Wong said a hypermarket worker told her that customers were buying mineral water by the box and the stock was gone soon after the hypermarket opened in the morning.
The water supply disruption is due to improvement works at the Sungai Selangor Phase 2 Water Treatment Plant (LRA SSP2). The disruption in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Klang, Shah Alam, Gombak, Kuala Langat and Kuala Selangor will affect 620,835 Syabas account holders.
Retiree Mokhtar Md Rashid, 70, who lives in Taman Sri Menegun off Jalan Kota Raja, Klang, said the improvements should have been planned better.
"This water cut should not stretch for so many days. Water tankers should be deployed by the second day."
Mr Geo Ong, 34, owner of 168 Kopitiam, said he might have to close his shop on the third day, as they may not have enough water stored to operate their business comfortably.
"We are concerned about cleanliness," he said.
Choon Guan Hainan Coffeeshop owner J. K. Foo, 68, said she too had enough water in her tanks for only two days. The coffee shop is in Pandamaran Chinese New Village, Port Klang.
After experiencing an extended water cut five years ago, Mr Kevin Tan's paranoia is understandable.
Although his area of Alam Damai, Cheras, will not be affected this time, every major supply disruption brings back bad memories.
"Syabas did not give any notice then. The cut happened during Chinese New Year. Water trucks only came after many complaints."
If not for a kind neighbour who left his gates open so those in need could draw water from his compound, the situation in Mr Tan's house would have been very unhygienic indeed.
Mr Tan also recalled having to take baths at his workplace.
For businesses which depend on consistent water supply, there is no choice but to prepare for such contingencies.
Ms Jolene Lee, marketing communications manager of a hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang, said plans had been put in place to ensure operations would not be interrupted.
"We have issued notices as well as letters and reminded guests to be mindful of their consumption and save water," said Ms Lee.
The hotel's operations director said the rooftop tanks could supply water for two days, after which they would have to rely on mobile water tankers.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
Although Puchong Utama resident Susie Lee's neighbourhood is not in the list, she decided to store water as a precaution.
"Even though we are not affected, I will always store water just in case," she said.
Subang Jaya Residents Association and SS17 Rukun Tetangga chairman A. B. Naicker is also playing it safe by storing water even though his neighbourhood is not listed.
"I have checked with Syabas and have been informed that SS12 to SS19 would not be affected
"However, I have advised residents to store water for the duration of the proposed cut," he said, adding that consumers should not be inconvenienced in such a manner.
"This should not be happening if the plant was maintained properly."
Bandar Puteri 8 Residents Association adviser and RT chairman Samson Maman said that although his house in Bandar Puteri Puchong would not be affected, he was not as sure about his business in SS15 of Subang Jaya.
"I am thankful that advance notice was given but there is a limit to how much water we can store on my premises."
Datuk Samson is worried that the restoration of supply may not be the end of the problem.
"There have been frequent cases of pipes bursting due to the sudden increase in water pressure when supply is restored. I hope Syabas will learn from past mistakes so that it won't recur," he said.
The morning market in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, may consider closing its operations on Thursday.
Its chairman, Mr Low Chun Foo, said about 100 traders would be affected by the water cut.
"We are planning to distribute a memo to traders to close shop on Thursday due to the water cut. The market will be dirty and smelly if we don't clean it daily.
"Unfortunately, we cannot store water anywhere within the market because space is limited. We rely solely on water from the main pipe," said Mr Low.
He said any disruption of more than two days would make running their business difficult.
Mr Low said he did not expect all traders to adhere to the memo.
"Some say they will manage and bring water from home," he added.
Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association honorary secretary Keu Kok Meng said eateries would usually stop selling hot drinks whenever there was no direct water supply.
"We will only sell packet or canned drinks when we run out of water.
"We can only use water stored from the direct pipe, not from water tanks. This is the rule imposed by local councils."
Food operators will use takeaway containers when serving food, even to those dining in.