Selangor surprises car washers with 6-hour time limit

The owner of this car wash business has to keep his carwash stall open even without water supply. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The owner of this car wash business has to keep his carwash stall open even without water supply. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Aug 9 — Most car wash businesses in the state are not aware of the daily six-hour restriction imposed by the state government as part of its water conservation efforts.

Checks by Malay Mail showed that many of the businesses were run by workers without the presence of an owner or supervisor.

Car wash supervisor Sukeri Zakaria, 36, said he was not told of any restrictions to their working hours, as the business was a franchise in most shopping malls.

Sukeri said he would abide by the restriction but was worried about the earnings.

“We usually operate from 10am to 8pm, and if we follow the restrictions, we will lose four hours of business,” he said.

“I work here to earn a living and it will be a problem if the profits are not enough.”

The profits, he said, would need to be able to cover the electricity and water costs.

Sukeri said he received 20 cars on average a day and anticipated business to drop by half because his customers come in the morning and evening.

“Most of the customers who come here work in the buildings nearby and leave their cars with us,” he said.

A petrol station car wash owner Balakrishnan Ramasamy Pillai, 55, was also not aware of the restriction but was ready to abide by it.

“Water for drinking and other daily activities is more important than washing cars,” he said.

“The restriction is done for the benefit and interest of the people, so I have no problem abiding by it right now,”

Although profits was not as important as the need of the people, Ramasamy expressed worry that the restriction would not be able to cover the basic operation costs of the business.

“I will need to pay for salaries, chemicals, water and electricity until the water issue is over,” he said.

“If I break even, there is no worry, but if there is a loss, then I may need to contemplate a temporary shutdown until the car wash can be fully operational again.”

Ramasamy, who has been in the business for 26 years, said he had never faced this issue before.

“I foresee a loss of almost 50 per cent, because I usually get 30 to 40 customers a day over the weekend,” he said, adding that he spent between RM300 and RM400 a month on water bills.

Another car wash business owner, who preferred to remain anonymous, had made the necessary amendments to the opening hours, abiding by the directive of the state.

“We usually open from 9am to 9pm, but I told the workers that we would be operating from noon to 6pm until further notice,” he said.

The operator said he fully supported the move by the government to shut down illegal car wash operations because it was a matter of water wastage and an environmental hazard.

“Some of these places do not know how to dispose of the chemicals properly, which is usually directed into the drains,” he said.

“The move to stop illegal operations is good, and the cutting down of operational hours is necessary to contribute to water conservation in this crisis.”

He said the car wash received 60 to 70 cars a day and estimated at least 50 per cent loss of business, adding that he spent about RM400 a month on his water bill.

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