KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tempers flared in Malaysia as the public took to social media to voice frustration over unscheduled water supply cuts in parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur began on Thursday (Sept 3).
Officials say disruption was caused by pollution emanating from a factory, with the water supply expected to be restored only after four days or more.
Selangor and the federal territory of KL are the most densely populated areas in Malaysia, with about seven million people.
Selangor and KL share the same water resources, supplied by rivers and reservoirs in Selangor.
Four water treatment plants were shut down on Thursday (Sept 3) due to odour pollution, said Pengurusan Air Selangor (Selangor Water Management) chief executive officer Suhaimi Kamaralzaman.
Many consumers who had expected supply to return on Friday (Sept 4) morning were disappointed to see that the taps remained dry.
Water tankers were deployed and pictures show people in long queues waiting to fill up pails and water bottles.
Facebook user Mohd Saleh Johari asked why water disruptions kept happening.
"The same issue happens almost two to three times a year. Why can't there be a permanent solution?" he said.
Joining the chorus of complaints was Ms Priyah Narayansamy, who asked why there was no backup plan in the event of pollution.
"Obviously, the enforcement and action have had no effect since the issue keeps happening. There should be follow-ups on past offenders," she said.
Another resident, Mr Muhammad Rashid, said more water tankers should be mobilised.
"There are many housing areas in Selangor, and people are now having to compete over limited water supplies," he said.
Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said a factory believed to be the cause of the problem has been sealed by the authorities.
The same factory was fined RM60,000 (S$19,780) in March for a similar offence of releasing heavy machinery oil into local drains that flow into the Sungai Gong river, said Mr Hee Loy Sian, the chairman of Selangor's Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation executive committee.
Some Malaysians have turned to Air Selangor's Facebook to vent their anger.
One Facebook user, Mr Zaidi Sihot, said the factory should be shut down for good.
"A compound (fine) is nothing for them, they will just pay it. The government must be stern. Because of profits, the people are the victims, " he said.
Another netizen, Delia Duarte, wanted the factory to be closed forever, with the owners sued and put into jail.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government should amend the Water Services Industry Act 2006 and the Environmental Quality Act to provide harsher penalties for those who pollute water sources.
"Water sources should be categorised under the security of the nation. It will be brought to the Cabinet, " he said in a tweet on Friday.