Opinion Letter: Improving Rubbish Clearing And Drain Maintenance

The mayor of Ipoh intends to make Ipoh the cleanest city and the Ipoh City Council (MBI), the best local authority in Malaysia by 2023. A two-pronged approach needs to be adopted by the MBI in order to achieve those goals. Firstly, it needs to review and improve its service provision with a focus on two basic areas: rubbish clearing and drains upkeep. Secondly, it must take steps to educate Ipoh citizens on their role in keeping their environment clean.

I am from Lim Gardens, which has a history of flooding and one of the main contributing factors is that our drains are too small and narrow, and thus are not able to carry bigger volumes of water during heavy rainfall. This issue has been brought up by the residents’ association to the authorities but so far no action has been taken to redesign and rebuild the decades-old drains. Also, for several years now, the drain cleaning service by MBI has been less frequent compared to before (currently it’s only once every 3 months). Due to actions by irresponsible people throwing rubbish into the drains, some drains eventually get clogged up, which leads to the stagnation of water. This leads to the breeding of Aedes mosquitos and subsequently, Dengue cases within the neighbourhood community. It also prevents proper flow of water which significantly increases the risk of flash floods during a heavy downpour.

Apart from Lim Gardens, there are many other examples in Ipoh of drains being too small, and clogged with thrown rubbish thus increasing the risk of flooding, especially in residential areas. MBI needs to redesign and increase the capacity of drains to match the volume of water from heavier rains, in addition to increasing the frequency of cleaning the drains.

MBI also needs to pay attention to the persistent problem of indiscriminate rubbish dumping and littering. There are many illegal rubbish dump sites in the city which are not routinely monitored and cleared by the MBI. Apart from being unsightly, this can over time lead to diseases borne out of a foul and dirty environment, including Dengue. These cases are usually acted upon only when members of the public raise complaints to the MBI.

Over the years, Ipoh ratepayers have experienced a cut back on council services which could be due to a smaller budget.  As a result, there has been a deterioration in the condition of drains and the environment of residential areas. Can expenditure on these basic services be compromised? A clean, well-maintained, disease-free environment is fundamental to the preservation of good health in the community. Funds can’t be averted away from such services until a more environmentally-conscious population has been developed.

I would urge MBI to conduct widespread and consistent public awareness/education campaigns on keeping the environment clean, as well as to clear the existing illegal dump sites, carry out routine spot-checks and install CCTV cameras at the locations of those illegal dump sites to catch and impose strict fines on those responsible. These actions would also help solve the issue of partially clogged drains due to thrown rubbish. The Klang Municipal Council (MPK) seems to have achieved success via its ‘Ops Kutu Sampah’ by fining people caught throwing rubbish at the North Klang bus station by its’ enforcement officers dressed in plainclothes. I support MBI’s actions to place new rubbish bins throughout Ipoh, but ultimately the residents’ mind-set on keeping the environment clean needs to be changed in order to encourage them to throw their rubbish into those bins in the first place.

If MBI truly intends to make Ipoh the cleanest city and become the best local authority in Malaysia by 2023, then they should look into these issues seriously not only for achieving a good image but to also create residents who’re environmentally-conscious and to prevent diseases and floods from occurring.

by RV

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