By James Gough
It took a royal visit for a major clean-up campaign in Rapat Setia to occur, much to the delight and relief of residents there. The visit by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah to Taman Harmony and Taman Rapat Koperasi at the beginning of last September has helped to brighten up the environment.
It needed 600 lorry-loads to remove the estimated 12,000 tons of ‘mainly construction waste’ in the area. The mammoth task of cleaning-up the illegal rubbish dumps was undertaken by a contractor engaged by the Ipoh City Council.
Yet, it is far from over. Despite the removal of the wastes, which took about a month, there are still a lot more scattered over a wide area close to housing estates and more money will be needed to be spent on clearing them.
Illegal Rubbish Dumps and Open Burnings are a Health Hazard
The illegal rubbish dumps and open burnings had been a problem for the residents for many years. They pose a health hazard and although several complaints had been made, no action was taken until now.
Ipoh Echo had, through its on-going “Dirt Vigilantes” campaign, urged its readers to submit photographs and details of filthy places in the city.
In response to the campaign, a “disappointed” resident in Rapat Setia wrote in. His letter was highlighted in IE 103 and received the immediate attention of the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, who insisted on personally inspecting the affected area.
Raja Nazrin’s move created a scramble at the State Government and City Council. The State Secretary Dato’ Dr. Abdul Rahman and Mayor Dato’ Haji Roshidi Hashim accompanied Raja Nazrin to Taman Harmony and Taman Rapat Koperasi.
The visit by Raja Nazrin has resulted in the residents now being able to breathe fresh air without inhaling particulates and suffering the noxious smells of open burning being wafted from the nearby limestone hills.
Amazing Transforma-tion: From Dumps to Green Patches
The clean-up covers a 500-metre stretch along a track. The area has now been transformed into a green patch with young trees sprouting and resembling a scenic residential environment – the way it should be.
MBI’s Director for Community Affairs Zulkifle Jaafar Sidek clarified that “clean up work was still ongoing and that only one third of the area closest to the housing area had been cleared and had cost the council RM12,000 thus far”.
Regarding the balance of the area covering about two kilometres to be cleared, Zulkifle stated that notices have been sent to the current owners consisting of the State, TNB and private parties and he’s awaiting responses from them to take further action. Based on the size, Zulkifle estimated that it would take a year to completely clean up the entire area.
On complaints about open burnings still rampant in the area, the city council’s enforcement officers had checked but were unable to apprehend any offenders.
Praises for Raja Nazrin
Residents in the area are jubilant and full of praise for Raja Nazrin for showing his concern of the problem. They claimed that the Royal visit has sparked off the clean up and had the Raja Muda not shown a personal interest in the problem, it would not have happened.
Saiful Nizam, an officer with the State Religious Council, whose house is located just next to the cleaned up area is “happy” that the area is clean as “the way it should be”. Another resident Khairul Anuar, who has been living there for nine years, stated that “now potential thieves cannot hide in the bushes anymore. All that is needed now is regular maintenance”.
According to Khairul and Saiful, illegal burning would occur every week before the clean up began and would leave a film of ash on their cars thereafter. Currently there is still open burning taking place but not as regularly as three months ago.
At an interview during the Royal visit to the dumpsite last September. Mayor Dato’ Roshidi stated that he would enforce the law for indiscriminate throwing of rubbish. Thus, over a three- month period to December 20, several compounds had been issued for illegal dumping in the area.
Restore Ipoh’s Clean City Image
More revealing is what could be achieved if the relevant authorities took the time and effort to restore Ipoh’s past image as the “cleanest city”.
Meanwhile, all residents in the city need to be more civic conscious and not throw rubbish indiscriminately.
Ipoh Echo is also thrilled by the result of its efforts and will continue with its “Dirt Vigilantes” campaign by highlighting filthy places in the city. Readers are urged to be our vigilantes in an effort to strive for a cleaner environment.