By Jerry Francis
A major long standing issue of Ipoh City is its cleanliness. This has been a topic of discussion among the residents, as well as visitors. And the question often asked is whether regaining its past image attained over four decades ago as the cleanest city in the country, or even just a clean city status, is achievable?
Attempts have been made since Ipoh was accorded city status in 1988 by the various mayors, but each had attributed his failure to the attitude of the residents.
There is no doubt that the residents need to change their mindset towards cleanliness, however, the Ipoh City Council must show its determination to achieve that goal. Instead, what has happened is that each of the mayors, at the end of his tenure of office, conveniently blamed the residents for not being cooperative.
The fact is that the city council must set a good example by showing its determination to keep the city clean, which it has not done enough to impress and demand cooperation from the residents.
Illegal rubbish dumps are all over the city, and even in the city centre litter is scattered about along the streets and back-lanes, and drains are often clogged up and emitting their stench.
Even school children are ignoring the need to keep the city clean. They are often seen throwing plastic bags and containers out the windows of their bus sekolah or cars after finishing their drinks.
If need be, the city council has to enforce its anti-litter regulations to make the residents realise that it means business. Go after those who have been indiscriminately dumping all sorts of wastes within the city.
The current mayor, Dato’ Zambri Man, who took over last year, is showing some initiative to make the city clean. He has directed the city council to spruce up the neglected public parks so that, in his own words, they can be “handed back to the people”. Zambri also created the first batch of 64 liaison officers for the council’s area communication committee to improve overall efficiency in dealing with public complaints and feedback.
Can he achieve the goal when all his predecessors have failed? There is yet a long way to gauge the outcome. Perhaps, the six-month trial anti-litter programme initiated in Gugusan Manjoi, the largest cluster of traditional villages within the city, is the beginning of a long road for the city to attain a clean status.
So far, the programme which was launched by Zambri to monitor and evaluate the quality of service provided by government-appointed concessionaires SWCorp and Environment Idaman, and in collaboration with the city council, has won the hearts of residents in the area.
They are giving the waste collection company E-Idaman the thumbs up, saying the programme has eliminated illegal dumpsites, resulting in a cleaner environment because cats and dogs no longer have bags to rip open.
The trial began early in January with the company distributing free dustbins to all households and simultaneously spring cleaning the entire neighbourhood. “Animals usually tear up the waste bags and that leaves a foul smell. Ipoh City Council (MBI) only collects the bags. The torn bags are left on the road and they foul up the neighbourhood for days,” said a resident. “Now every house has a dustbin and we have clean streets. It is an improvement.”
Let us hope such programmes can be extended to cover the whole city and make our long road to the status of a clean city a success.