17 days of dry taps

Residents placing water containers in front of an empty Syabas water tank in Taman Impian Ehsan.

BALAKONG - It is Day 17 of dry taps and the prolonged drought in the country is taking its toll, especially on tempers and the health of the people in this area.

They are frustrated and angry at the predicament they find themselves in. And with good reason.

Many have to carry water in buckets, plastic bottles and all sorts of other containers over distances, and for some, these precious supplies must be lugged up flights of stairs.

Mohd Isa Hamzah, 33, a resident at Taman Impian Ehsan, said he had fallen ill from all the times he had to gather water from public pipes and other filling points, and then heave the containers to his third-floor apartment.

"I have fever and body aches that started a few days ago," he said. He has a wife and two young children.

Even the car that he used to transport the water containers was starting to give trouble.

"I need to change the shock absorbers, the weight of the containers has been too much," he said, adding that he needed to fetch water at least three to four times a day.

He was also suffering from insufficient rest, he said, because the water tankers sent by Syabas made their rounds at irregular times and mostly in the wee hours.

Norlaila Mohd Nor, a 42-year-old kuih seller, said the situation had been very difficult for her and her disabled husband.

Aside from having to put food on the table, she has to fetch water for her family's needs.

"I have to do everything. This is frustrating and I can't even find time to make kuih to sell. How am I going to cope?" she said.

She stopped her business about two weeks ago.

Nor Kastini Mat Yusof, a 28-year-old babysitter, is upset that the crisis has gone on for weeks.

She is also unhappy that the water tankers are irregular in their visits.

"They come at odd hours and if we miss them, things get really difficult for us," she complained.

Nurse Haridah Said, 56, said the crisis had stopped her from attending her Quran classes, which she usually goes for three times a week.

"I need to fetch water for my family and can only do that after I get home from work, so I am unable to attend the classes.

"My family and I no longer bathe twice a day and this is causing uneasiness. We are so tired. How long more must we cope?" she asked.

In Taman Bukit Anggerik, Cheras, the water disruption has been so severe that the majority of hawker centres there have temporarily closed.

Resident K.L. Ng said that even the most popular hawker centre along Jalan 34/154 had stopped operating.

"Normally, it is so packed that getting a seat for breakfast, lunch or dinner is difficult," he said.

Only one hawker centre and a few other eateries continue to operate and these rely on water transported from other areas. The water from the tankers is not enough for these businesses.

Ng and some other residents said they were concerned over the cleanliness of the supplies used by these places. So they travel long distances, to where there are no water cuts, to eat or order takeaway meals.

"Some even brave the heavy traffic into the city centre to have their meals," he added.

Other businesses that have been hit in Taman Bukit Anggerik are laundromats, hair salons and car wash operations.

> Klang Valley readers should refer to Metro Central for more stories on how the water crisis is affecting businesses.