KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Water supply disruptions across the Klang Valley have forced the closures of car washes and a clinic and caused massive business losses running into tens of thousands of ringgit.
A restaurant said it risked losing RM10,000 a day during water cuts, while a pet shop owner said he suffered “significant” losses because of the lack of fresh water for his fish and shrimp.
Yesterday, Malay Mail spoke to businesses in Subang Jaya and Ampang — districts affected by the water cuts — who said they had to resort to creative ways to continue their daily operations amid the water cuts lasting until the weekend.
Gold Chilli, a restaurant in SS15, Subang Jaya, which is famous for its Chinese dishes, said its water supply was disrupted since three days ago and it may have to close down today if the situation persists.
Its owner Chow Chet Pin, who is in charge of two branches in Subang Jaya, said she risked losing RM10,000 worth of daily business every time water cuts happened.
“This is ridiculous. We got a lot customers every day, especially in the SS15 branch, and think of all the dish-washing and cleaning up that we have to do.
“So far we can still manage by using paper plates and utensils but it is not sustainable. We may even have to close temporarily for one day since they say the water will only be fully restored by Sunday evening,” she said.
A cafe called Analog in SS17 said it has been seeing less customers, especially coffee lovers, for the past two days because the water cuts had forced them to rely on mineral water instead of filtered water, which changes the way a cup of joe tastes.
Owner Afiq Hamidi, 28, said to make a good cup of coffee, a certain pH level in the water is needed and mineral water just does not cut it.
He added the cafe also had to stop offering free filtered water to customers during the disruptions and had to start selling bottled mineral water.
“It is not like we want to charge them, because it is just water, but at the moment the resource is limited so we have to start charging.
“I hope the water supply would resume sooner than announced because we cannot afford to sell subpar cups of coffee for long, especially when some of our staff are known as good baristas in the local scene,” he said.
In Taman Sri Watan, Jamaliah Food Court restaurant owner Azirawati Ismail, 42, said business could continue despite the disruption, as she was able to get her supply nearby.
“I transport at least seven water containers for five times a day back and forth near my relative house whose supply was still available since Tuesday.
“It is too far and difficult for me to travel to Aeon Big Ampang where Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) has set up a station for the public to replenish their containers,” she said.
Azirawati, who managed the restaurant in Taman Sri Watan, said the eatery was opened daily from 7am until 11pm, even though water supply has temporarily stopped.
She said it was exhausting to refill the containers, but it was more convenient than queuing up to fill her containers under the sun since a trip to her relative’s house would take at least 30 minutes.
Satay stall owner, Iles Jusoh, 53, said he might have to close shop for the weekend if the water does not return by today.
Iles, whose stall is adjacent to Azirawati’s restaurant, said weekend was peak hours and he feared he might not be able to sustain the demand of customers.
“We (Azirawati) share the water together for our own cooking but I’m afraid we are being pushed at our limits here,” he said.
Iles said he has also resorted to buying mineral water from convenience store, but has to make do with small bottles because the larger ones have been snapped up.
He also said it did not matter whether it rained because the weather was still going to be hot.
“The rain which happens for a short while does little to help our predicament since we’re beside a busy road and the rain would just release all the heat trapped inside the road.”
Stall owner Nasarudin Osman, 50, said the week-long disruption was a living nightmare to him as he runs a cendol business.
“What is there to do when the water stops? No water means no frozen ice. You cannot prepare a bowl of cendol without ice right?” he said.
Nasarudin revealed his ice supplier was also one of those affected by the water cuts and has temporarily stopped delivering his supply of crushed ice since Tuesday.
“My business is too water-intensive and I won’t be able to carry so many pails of water each time because it’s too heavy,” he said.
He said some of his regular customers were left disappointed since he was forced to close and agreed that this was the worst water supply disruption he faced since starting his business four months ago.
“I earn about RM100 per day selling cendol so the disruption did affect my livelihood briefly.
“We can only be patient. There is no point in complaining because others are doing their best to fix the situation for us and all I can do is wait,” he said.
Schools and kindergartens
In Ampang, several medical officers of Klinik 1Malaysia Taman Sri Watan were seen transporting a makeshift water tank into the clinic.
The clinic was forced to close down yesterday because medical services could not be performed due to the water supply disruptions.
An officer who wished for anonymity said the clinic has notified Syabas to replenish their tank and patients have been asked to head to Klinik 1Malaysia Taman Mulia Jaya about 4km away.
Meanwhile, Taska Aulad Mahabbah in Taman Sri Watan remained operational as preparations were made prior to the cuts.
Its headmistress Jamilah Siking, 49, said the kindergarten only started suffering water supply disruption yesterday and parents have offered to help the school by supplying them with their own water containers for their children.
“They are very understanding and we have some who also brought their own hot water thermos for some of the children to take their shower.
“We have also advised the children to take their meals and baths at home before come here to save water as the water stored here was for emergency purposes,” she said.
Jamilah said the school with about 35 students would be able to survive the week since there were no classes during the weekend and the current supply was enough to last until today.
She said they notified Syabas of their water request Wednesday and a water tanker was dispatched to the school about 11.30am yesterday.
“This is one of the worst disruption we have faced in the area but I am glad we have taken the necessary steps to provide the children with a conducive learning environment despite our current predicament,” she said.
Other water-intensive businesses
Checks around Subang Jaya revealed that the two main car washes at the SS15 Petron and SS18 Shell, which are known to operate 24 hours, were closed yesterday.
There were no signages put up to explain their closures and the car wash areas were cordoned off with a tape.
Both car washes are known to be open all year round to Subang Jaya folks, even during major festive seasons like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya.
In Taman Sri Watan, Water Mermaid pet shop owner, who only wanted to be known as Mr. Lai, said the water cut severely affected his fish-selling business that has been running for the past 10 years.
“I am unable to change the water in the aquariums as I fear the water may not be suitable for the fishes to survive in.
“I change their water daily and with no fresh water to replace them, they will also face death. So I cannot do so until water is restored,” he said.
Lai, who also sells shrimp, said he has stopped taking orders from his supplier as he was not able to accommodate the creatures with the current water crisis.
“Some have died because they were unable to survive in such dirty conditions.
“I have to sell all of them within a day or two whenever I receive them from the farm as these fishes have their own biological adaptability to their surroundings,” he said.
Checks at his shop showed several murky fish tanks containing goldfish and betta fishes (fighting fish).
He said he has suffered significant losses as he was unable to get fresh water supply due to the distance to the water refilling station after water cuts entered the third day.
“You may also face the risk of the tanks running out of water while queuing which will definitely waste all your time traveling back and forth.
“Besides how many pails of water can you get in one trip? I know I need more than that for my business,” he said.
Mineral water sales booming
A mini mart in SS14, however, was restocking mineral water supplies.
A staff who only wanted to be known as Jay said for the past three days, businesses on the same row of the mart have been buying mineral water from the mart to carry on with their daily operations, which forced them to re-order 200 boxes of 1.5-litre bottles of mineral water.
“It is a shame that the water disruptions will last longer but business is good for us. This is the biggest order of mineral water we had to make this year,” he said.
Selangor state executive councillor Zaidy Abdul Talib has said water supply will resume in stages by Sunday at 6pm in Petaling, Klang/Shah Alam, Gombak and Kuala Lumpur, and Saturday at 6am for Kuala Langat and Hulu Selangor.