Rundi (centre) witnessing Alice presenting the letter of appointment to Nelson.

KUCHING: Datuk Balang Nelson Balang Rining is now officially the new chairman of LAKU Management Sdn Bhd.

Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom witnessed the handing over of chairmanship from Datuk Alice Jalan Empaling (who covered the duties of LAKU chairman since the passing of Datuk Ahmad Lai Bujang) to Balang at LAKU office, Jalan Merbau today (July 6).

Balang was appointed to be post effective Feb 20, 2020. In his speech, he said he felt honoured, privileged and grateful for this opportunity, and he pledged to do his best to serve and lead LAKU to greater heights with the help of all LAKU staff.

He then said the water industry in Malaysia is a challenge with perennial issues such as tariffs to balance operating budgets to create a self-sustaining ecosystem, low water reserve margins and high non-revenue water (NRW).

“These issues are not exclusive to Sarawak and are prevailing in many other states in Malaysia as well as other countries in the world,” he said.

He said in terms of operating performance, there is a need to look the tariffs, water reserve margin and the NRW which impacts both the company’s financial performance and service delivery.

“With regard to NRW, it is a pain point of many water utilities around the world. It is water pumped from a source but is lost before it reaches the end consumer.

“NRW is one of the main challenges in the industry. The term refers to water that is produced but never reaches the consumer, as it is lost along the distribution network. Therefore, more focus will be on this NRW,” he said.

The former Ba Kelalan assemblyman said Malaysia’s NRW is 35.3 percent as of 2017 and Sarawak being the third largest producer of water in the country is higher at 37.8 percent in the year 2017.

“In the case of LAKU, its NRW of 25.3 percent in 2017 is lower than Sarawak’s average NRW of 37.8 percent.

“This is an impressive achievement given that Sarawak’s overall NRW is 37.8 percent. Even though LAKU has achieved a NRW of 25.3 percent, it should push further to attain world class standard.

“It could model itself against countries such as Singapore that has a NRW of five percent; Denmark and Netherland (six percent each); and Germany and Japan, (seven percent each),” he said.

He added LAKU has a strong operational performance and can strengthen itself further to attain world class standard in NRW, and there is also a need to cater for future demand.

“We will also look at the human resource (HR) capability development to transform LAKU into a high performing company, that is a company of choice for employment and a model of the future of jobs,” he said.