Johor considers improving water assets returned by Singapore

JOHOR BARU - The state will consider upgrading the water treatment plants handed back to it by the Singapore Public Utilities Board (PUB) today.

Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the handover, to be carried out under the 1961 Water Agreement, would benefit local residents especially in Johor Baru and Pontian.

"The water treatment plants in Skudai and Gunung Pulai, and the two water pumps in Tebrau and Pontian will be upgraded if necessary to meet the needs of our residents," he told reporters at his Hari Raya open house here yesterday.

Abdul Ghani said Singapore, which had been enjoying raw water from the plants for about 50 years, had expressed its happiness that the move would benefit Johoreans.

Meanwhile, a joint statement issued by Johor government and PUB said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was informed by his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong that the treatment plants would be returned following the end of the agreement today.

It said the decision, which was made during the Singapore-Malaysia Leader's Retreat on May 24 last year, stated that the facilities would be handed over free of charge and in good working order.

The statement added that since May last year, a joint technical committee and a joint working group, comprising officials from both countries, had been working on the transfer, including training local staff for the takeover on Sept 1.

The handover ceremony, to be held at the Gunung Pulai treatment plant today, will be attended by officials from both countries including Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Singa­pore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Bala­krishnan and Abdul Ghani.

It had been reported that the handover of the treatment plants would result in the production of an extra 681 million litres of treated water a day for the state.