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INDAH WATER GETS TOUGH & GETS PAID : Indah Water threat pays off
11/06/2007 NST By Annie Freeda Cruez

KUALA LUMPUR: Threatening legal action and creating awareness does seem to work after all.

Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) has managed to collect RM300 million in arrears from house-owners within a year.

Eighty-four per cent of the 20 million users settled their bills between April last year and this April.

IWK director Suhaimi Kamaralzaman said the recent Appellate Court ruling that IWK could sue users who refused to pay for sewerage services had also prompted more defaulters to pay up.

Suhaimi said although the majority had settled their bills, there were still hundreds of thousands of defaulters.

Now IWK is gunning for the remaining defaulters who owe a total of RM60 million.

He said IWK had taken more than 15,000 people, who owed RM50 million for sewerage services, to court from last July.

This action followed the landmark case in the High Court against Yong Sieng Kooi and Ong Ching Yan, owners of a three-storey commercial property in Bandar Baru Damansara, for not paying their IWK bills.

The court ordered the couple to pay RM4,978 in sewerage charges, owed since 1997, and dismissed their appeal with costs.

IWK has also employed debt collectors and carried out a relentless awareness campaigns, including through newspaper advertisements and community events, to get defaulters to pay.

"Most of the unpaid bills are from shoplots, low-cost houses, apartments and condominiums.

"Many of the defaulters are tenants who deliberately ignore their responsibility of settling the bills as there is no termination of service, unlike water and electricity supplies."

"Legal action is a last resort after all efforts to recover the outstanding charges have been exhausted, which include reminders, visits by debt collection agencies and letters of demand," Suhaimi said.

He noted that premises in cities and urban areas enjoyed modern sewerage facilities connected to sewage treatment plants.

Unfortunately, he said, there were still users who were unaware that sewage and wastewater from their toilets, bathrooms and kitchens was channelled to sewage treatment plants.

"More often than not, we tend to hear complaints that IWK does not provide sewerage services but owners are billed.

"In reality, daily services or maintenance are performed in the treatment plants and along the underground sewer networks and not at the premises."

IWK, the national sewerage company wholly owned by the government through the Minister of Finance Incorporated, has been entrusted with providing sewerage services to more than 20 million users in the country.

It operates and maintains more than 9,100 sewage treatment plants and a 16,000km sewer network.

IWK also provides a scheduled desludging service to over 400,000 individual septic tanks nationwide.

 

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