A severe drought in the Malay Peninsula blamed on El Ni¤o has fueled demand for plastic water containers throughout Malaysia, as villagers scramble to store as much water as possible in a rationing drive.
The water crisis has turned out to be a money-making opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs selling plastic products.
Many Malaysian stores are enjoying brisk sales of plastic containers — the bigger the better.
The sudden demand has doubled and tripled prices, and prompted the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association to issue a list of recommended retail prices, following numerous complaints of profiteering.
``The adverse feedback from the public on the substantial difference in the prices of water containers charged by dealers has prompted us to issue this statement,'' MPMA President Liew Sew Yee said in a prepared statement.
The recommended prices for water containers are 15-25 ringgit ($4-$6.60) for 8- to 15-gallon sizes, 20-35 ringgit ($5.30-$9.30) for 16-to 25-gallon sizes and 36-65 ringgit ($9.60-$17.25) for containers of 26-40 gallons.
Jerrycans of 4.4-6.6 gallons should retail at 10-15 ringgit ($2.65-$4), MPMA suggests.
Liew urged stores to be prudent and fair in their pricing, and said the recommended retail prices were drawn up after a meeting with the association's injection molding housewares subcommittee.
He said there is no need to rush for plastic containers because the supply is sufficient. Association members produce about 12,000-15,000 containers of various sizes a day.
To enforce the recommended pricing, government officers from Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs will conduct checks on traders, warned Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Tan Chai Ho.
To date, four shops in cities around Kuala Lumpur have had their stock of water containers confiscated after the stores set exorbitant prices, industry sources said.