The clearing up of illegal rubbish dumps in the Rapat Setia area is only “the tip of an iceberg”. There is still a mountain of wastes from the thousands of such illegal rubbish dumps in the city.
Therefore, the Ipoh City Council needs to be very serious about clearing them. Otherwise, the council could be caught with its pants down, just as when the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, decided to personally inspect the affected area in Rapat Setia last September following a letter published by Ipoh Echo.
Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim must have felt rather speechless when Raja Nazrin saw for himself the seriousness of the situation resulting from the city council’s failure to respond to the residents’ complaints about the illegal dumping and open burnings in the area.
The city council must start to initiate the clean up throughout the city and at the same time be serious about enforcing regulations to act against the irresponsible people who would immediately start dumping the moment each illegal dump is cleared.
Some of those irresponsible residents must be dragged to court to show that the city council is serious about taking action. Post plainclothes enforcement officers at such illegal rubbish dumps to catch the culprits, as mere warnings do not seem to work. Those caught must be slapped with heavy fines, which can be channelled towards clean-up operations.
Failure by the city council to deal with the illegal rubbish dumps (estimated at over 15,000) would further aggravate the problem. Certainly the city council does not need to wait for another Royal visit to get serious about clearing the rubbish dumps scattered throughout the city.
The clean-up at Rapat Setia is a lesson. It needed 600 lorry loads to remove the heaps of 12,000 tonnes of wastes at Taman Harmony and Taman Koperasi, and another month (perhaps a thousand more lorry-loads) for the contractor to clear the balance of the two-third of the wastes accumulated there over the years.
Why must ratepayers’ money be used for the clean-up operations? Why not let those guilty of dumping rubbish illegally pay for the cleaning up? The biggest culprits are the operators of small lorries, who would, for a fee, cart away wastes and dump them at the nearest convenient place.
The city council also needs to ensure that every household is equipped with a rubbish bin. As it is, many households are hanging their domestic wastes in plastic bags on the fences or trees in front of their houses, like Christmas decorations. Such bundles are often rummaged by stray cattle or dogs, resulting in the wastes being scattered about. Residents have often been seen throwing plastic bags of domestic wastes into monsoon drains and along roads on their way to work each morning.
I had expected that the recent call by the federal government to all states and local governments to step up the move against Dengue would result in a major cleanliness campaign. But it appears the efforts in Ipoh have fizzled out. Heaps of rubbish and clogged drains are seen all over the city and there seems to be no attempt being taken to clear them.
Ipoh Echo, in its effort to serve the community, will continue with the “dirt vigilantes” campaign to spot dirty places and highlight them.
It hopes that together with the city council and the residents, the city can restore its lost image as one of the cleanest cities in the country, and only then can the city live up to its slogan of “Bersih, Hijau dan Membangun (Clean, Green and Progressive).”