By James Gough
Stories and reports about the cleanliness and rubbish about Ipoh are two consistent topics that has never failed to make it into the newspapers every week for the past two years. From Bercham to Pasir Puteh and Buntong the entire Ipoh community has contributed their share of complaints to the media and Ipoh City Council. The often used slogan, SLR or sampah (rubbish) longkang (drain) and rumput (grass) seems to be on the lips of all concerned Ipoh residents. Ipoh Echo too has contributed its share to helping identify a solution. Our June 16, 2012 issue 145 titled, “Cleaning Ipoh-A Joint Responsibility” touched on ‘illegal dump sites’, public education and enforcement.
MB takes up the cudgel on cleanliness throughout Perak State, adding two more tasks: Street Lighting and Potholes
A follow-up issue, #151 on September 16 under the title of “Mayor Targets Ipoh To Be 85% Clean in 1 Year”, highlighted the standard operating procedures for Rubbish Collection, Grass Cutting and Drain Cleaning and the scope of work of the contractors. The same issue also carried a list of Ipoh Councillors and their contact numbers. The purpose of the overall report was to create awareness for residents to call their respective councillors if the specified procedures were not being followed.
Apparently the goals are not being attained as this topic of cleanliness took centre stage in early February, specifically after the weekly State Exco meeting on February 6, when Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir joined in the chorus of complaints and issued a stern warning to all Council Presidents and Councillors throughout the state to “improve their efficiency and productivity” in keeping the state clean.
Stating that he had received numerous complaints constantly about “councils and councillors” from all the districts in the state, for failing to carry out their responsibilities, Zambry reminded the relevant authorities “to set a good example and provide a good service to the residents”. He further added that he would be making spot checks and would not be “lenient anymore”. Not surprisingly Zambry listed the regular complaints of Uncollected Rubbish, Clogged Drains and Uncut Grass or SLR and included two other complaints: Faulty Street Lighting and Road Potholes. “These are the basic services and the five main tasks that the local authorities need to focus on and provide effective services to their communities”.
First Spot Check
True to his word, Zambry did make a spot check exactly a week later on February 13, immediately after the Chinese New Year break and after the State Exco meeting, to Ipoh City Council where he again repeated his expectations of the five main tasks to service the community.
When asked about Mayor Dato’ Roshidi’s target of 85% Clean Ipoh by August this year, Zambry commended Roshidi for setting the goal but clarified that being an ongoing SOP (standard operating procedure) the goal should be 100% immediately and the standard should subsequently be consistently maintained.
Much as Zambry’s statement is to be applauded, it will be a long and arduous task to re-educate local residents’ mindsets after such a long period of wanton lack of discipline. At a recent Chinese New Year gathering organised by MBI with Bercham’s Councillor Ir Lai Kong Phooi, Dato’ Roshidi stressed the issue of cleanliness and provided forms for residents to fill up requesting MBI to assist in cleaning their neighbourhood be it their drain or illegal rubbish. One resident Mrs Ho even went to the extent of personally approaching Dato’ Roshidi to pour out her frustration about her filthy neighbourhood.
Appointment of Garden Waste Contractor
In a recent interview Roshidi updated Ipoh Echo that Ipoh City Council had recently met with all its 24 supervisors and regulators who had given their support and commitment towards achieving the Council’s 85% Clean Ipoh goal. Roshidi also highlighted that during the Council’s last meeting on cleanliness it had approved the privatization of the collection of garden waste. The respective department in charge is currently working out the details of the operation and this collection service is anticipated to begin by April 1 or earlier.
Once finalized, the Council will proceed to initiate a gotong royong simultaneously with zone councillors and heads of departments in 17 zones in Ipoh. Roshidi anticipates that this total operation, when it takes place, will be a positive move towards achieving the 85% Clean Ipoh goal for the long term.
With regards to enforcement, Roshidi stated it was ongoing and since the beginning of 2013 over 300 summonses for cleanliness has been issued to offenders.
Roshidi has also proposed to showcase the cleanliness programme and has tentatively identified the location fronting Jalan Lau Pak Khuan and bordered by Jalan Canning Estate, Jalan Devadason and Hospital Fatimah.
This location although small has a mix of activities residential and commercial. These include two fields, a hotel, Courts, a post office, a hospital, several banks and restaurants.
Despite its small area the basic SLR services are lacking. A resident, Augustine Basnayake welcomed the initiative. He reported that the 3 times per week rubbish collection was good. However, the drains were not cleaned nor grass cut per schedule and the garden waste dumps are an eyesore. A quick recce around the neighbourhood by Ipoh Echo confirmed the report by Basnayake and although relatively clean was very shabby in appearance. The commercial establishments too were receptive to the idea.
Several customers at the Ipoh Garden Post Office said the uncleared rubbish in the drain surrounding the Post Office would float into the Post Office compound after a heavy rain and this was unpleasant as the Post Office regularly has foreigners using the postal service. A bank officer, not wishing to be named, said the initiative could help instil a cleanliness attitude in its customers to throw their ATM statements in the bins provided, accurately.
Creating a Cleanliness Culture
Ms Noraslinda, the Branch Manager for Courts welcomed the move saying “it will create awareness for a cleanliness culture among our staff, which will be good for the community and benefit our customers.”
Ms Ceylyn Tay, the Councillor for Canning fully agreed with the idea and was willing to work with Dato’ Roshidi to achieve the goal. Also acknowledging that the small area was not the issue but providing good services is and she hoped the project will influence residents to keep their neighbourhood clean at all times.
With the appointment of the garden waste contractor, theoretically, our neighbourhoods should be neat and tidy always. Hence the next few months could see the turning point towards achieving the former title of “the cleanest city in the country”.