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Industries in Malaysia fear nation’s worst water crisis

PETALING JAYA — Industries in Malaysia are warning the hot spell, expected to last until September, will impact the nation’s economy.

Industries in Malaysia fear nation’s worst water crisis

An area near the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor taken on April 19, 2016. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

PETALING JAYA — Industries in Malaysia are warning the hot spell, expected to last until September, will impact the nation’s economy.

They say productivity levels will fall as certain sectors will be hit if water rationing kicks in due to low water supply.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said it could be costly for businesses if water supply was disrupted.

“Many industries need constant supply of clean and treated water. Past instances have proven operation costs increased when companies were forced to source their own water supply,” he said.

Mr Shamsuddin highlighted the 1998 water crisis in the Klang Valley when industries were affected following the government’s decision to introduce water rationing for 150 days.

Faced with high demand and spiralling operating costs, Mr Shamsuddin said many companies faced a tough time.

“Productivity slumped across the board at the time due to factors beyond their control.”

Mr Shamsuddin said many were now bracing for a similar situation as another crisis looms due to depleting water reserves at dams.

“I hope the authorities will manage the situation more efficiently than they did in 1998,” he said.

Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers’ Association secretary Chay Ee Mong said there had been a 20 per cent decline in output.

“If this continues until September, our output could fall between 40 and 50 per cent,” he said.

Mr Chay said the hot weather had yet to affect the health of vegetable farm workers.

“For now, Cameron Highlands is still relatively cool at night,” he said.

Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia Penang branch chairman Jerry Chan Fook Sing said the construction industry was also affected by the crisis.

“Our operation costs rose during that time (in 1998) but our work was not disrupted, unlike other industries such as electronics and soft drink manufacturers. Even hawkers were impacted as they relied heavily on water,” he said.

Asked if businesses and industries were better prepared to face another water rationing period, Mr Chan said he did not think so.

“Particularly in Penang, we have taken things for granted because of the minimal disruption, good water quality and constant supply over the years. This has lulled most people into a false sense of security,” he said.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said Malaysia was at risk of falling into a state of emergency if steps were not taken to address the situation quickly.

“The heat and lack of water will affect the productivity of workers, resulting in a decline of output,” he said.

“The state and federal government must start a plan to conserve water. If not, we will be setting ourselves to face an awful disaster,” he said.

He said there should be stricter usage of water during this period to stop consumers from using water unnecessarily.

“We should not wait until water levels at dams reach 30 per cent before thinking of a conservation plan.”

Mr Santiago said if the heatwave continued over the next five months, Malaysia could face its worst water crisis. THE MALAY MAIL ONLINE

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