By Jerry Francis
Dato’ Roshidi Hashim was reported to have admitted that he had failed as the Mayor of Ipoh for being unable to keep the city clean.
I accept his admission at the last City Council’s full-board meeting, but I cannot accept his excuse that his failure was solely because the people could not be disciplined and refrained from throwing rubbish indiscriminately.
Does this mean that he and his successors are going to just accept the situation as “whatever will be, will be” and blame it all on the attitude of the residents? Dato’ Roshidi’s failure is largely due to the City Council’s lack of determination to restore the city’s lost image as one of the cleanest in the country.
The City Council needs to lead by example. If it failed in carrying out its responsibilities, then it can expect the residents to also adopt a “tidak-apa” attitude and discard their wastes indiscriminately and readily blame the City Council for its poor services.
After all, preventing wastes from being indiscriminately discarded is only part of the overall efforts needed to keep the city clean. Clogged drains need clearing, rubbish collected efficiently, grass cut regularly, care of plants and shrubs along streets and roads, and proper maintenance of public parks and attractions. Every household in the city too must be directed to place all their domestic wastes in rubbish bins, not in plastic bags hanging on fences and trees, only to be scattered by dogs, cats and cattle. These are among the ingredients of a clean city.
Are all these not the responsibilities of the City Council? If so, would not the poor service we are experiencing now reflect on the efficiency of the City Council? Then why just put the blame on the people?
How is it that over two decades ago Ipoh was clean when it was just a municipality, but not now? The argument often put forward is that the city limit had increased in size, but let’s not forget that as the city grew, so did its manpower and budget.
Of course, the residents too are to be blamed for the thousands of illegal rubbish dumps scattered around the city. Their lack of cooperation is frustrating the City Council’s effort to clear the illegal dumps. The moment an illegal dump is cleared, a new dump begins.
One of the main culprits is the operators of small lorries for hire. They are the ones who cart the wastes and dump them at the nearest place convenient to them. Therefore, the City Council should consider taking stern action, including sending plainclothes enforcement officers to catch those responsible for throwing wastes indiscriminately. The City Council has the power to enforce the various enactments pertaining to health and cleanliness in the city.
It should not allow any “political constraints” to affect its efforts to keep the city clean. Those irresponsible residents will have to be prosecuted since attempts to discipline them into restraining from littering and illegal dumping of wastes had failed.
The City Council must bring those guilty of illegal dumping to court to show that it means business.
Ipoh Echo had in 2010 launched a “dirt vigilante” campaign calling on residents to report, with photographs, areas found to be filthy. Following this, the City Council had moved in to clear hundreds of illegal dumps, particularly in the Gunung Rapat area.
Of late, the City Council seems to be taking it easy. Not only the city is getting dirtier, cattle and buffaloes are reappearing in the city. They are endangering motorists at night and damaging plants in the housing estates.