Unreasonable for consumers to pay for stolen meters

The recent spat on who was to pay for the replacement of water meters between an officer of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) and some residents in Cheras, who had their meters stolen, has caused confusion amongst many consumers.

There are water supply laws and rules in this country governing the supply of water to consumers. In Selangor, they are the Selangor Water Supply Enactment 1997 and the Selangor Water Supply Rules.

Under Clause 51 of the Enactment it states, among others, that the licensee shall supply and keep in repair all meters and that all meters shall be the property of the licensee.

However, the Enactment is silent as to who is responsible to pay for the replacement of a stolen meter.

On the other hand, the Water Supply Rules on meters clearly states that all meters shall be supplied, fixed and maintained by the State Director and shall remain Government property, but that the consumer shall be solely responsible for the safe custody of the meter.

In addition, the Water Supply Rules allow the State Director to decide on the location, which is most convenient to him, to site the meter.

It is clear from the rules that the consumer is solely responsible for anything that happens to the meter including theft and damage, wherever it is installed.

Most of the domestic meters in new housing areas are now located outside the buildings. Obviously this is done for the convenience of meter readers.

And all meters stolen were those installed outside the premises.

Under these circumstances, where consumers have virtually no control over the security of the meters from theft or vandalism, is it still reasonable for the consumers to be responsible for the "safe custody" of the meters?

The above was published in The Star on 14/08/06.

nakedeyeview.com.my 2007