PUAS' about-turn decision on water vending machines intriguing!

I am very surprised by Puas' decision allowing water-vending machine operators to continue their business (The Sun Valley, Jan 14, 2004). This is an about-turn decision of Puas as it had earlier faulted them for their illegal installations (The Sun Valley, Sept 6, 2003).

The reasons given for disallowing the operation of water-vending machines were as follows:

1. Direct connection to mains will result in a possible backflow of contaminated water into the main pipeline,
2. De-chlorinated water from vending machine may be subject to contamination,
3. Use of unregistered meter is illegal and
4. Sub-selling of water without permission from Puas is not permitted.

These were good grounds for the objection and Puas should be lauded for being firm and serious in carrying out its job.

But, CEO of Puas now allows the water vendors to carry on operating if the latter:

1. use special connection to connect to the water mains and
2. submit monthly reports to Puas to ensure water from the machines is potable.

With regard to the special connection, one would assume that a non-return valve would be used which will allow only water from the mains to flow into the machine, thus prevent any backflow from the machine to the mains.

In addition to the above, it is also assumed that a new meter would be installed next to the non-return valve and registered in the name of the machine vendor to measure the quantity of water entering the machine.

The question now arises is whether a new tariff code has been created by Puas for the sub-selling of water? Under the Selangor Water Supply Enactment 1997, Clause 40 (2) (a), any consumer who, having a contract with Puas for the supply of water, is not allowed to use the water for purposes other than the purposes of the contract. One wonders what contract Puas has entered with the machine vendors for the sub-sale of water.

Incidental to the above action by Puas, it was reported earlier (The Sun, Jan 10, 2004) that the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (CASSA) had urged Puas to work closely with water-vending operators.

And in another report (NST City News, Jan 12, 2004) CASSA had even threatened Puas with legal action if the latter could not rectify the dirty water problem in 100 days, while in the same breath urged Puas to work closely with all water-vending operators.

From all the above recent happenings, many consumers would have been let to conjecture that there could be a significant link between all parties involved in the above issue.

But most of all, giving permission for the continued operation of water-vending machines is a subtle admission by Puas that its water supplied to consumers in the Klang Valley is not wholesome and not fit for human consumption.


An edited version of this article was published in The Sun, Feb 5 2004.

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