The illegal dumping of rubbish is becoming a widespread problem in residential areas across the Brunei-Muara District.
Residents and grassroots leaders in various housing schemes in the district have voiced their frustrations and concerns over the issue, with some suggesting that government intervention is needed to rectify the problem.
Md Jainudin Fakrul, a resident at the Kg Sungai Buloh Two (Bukit Sibanging) Landless Indigenous Citizens Housing Scheme (STKRJ), said the lack of proper signage has led to uncontrolled dumping of waste at an open area.
"There is this one junction at my residential area... an open area where irresponsible people are dumping their rubbish illegally," he told The Brunei Times last week.
"The area is close to the exit of the new Kg Panchor/ Kg Mengkabau National Housing Scheme (NHS). There is no sign to inform people (not to throw their rubbish there)," said Md Jainudin who has been living in the area since 2007.
He explained that the site turned into a dumping ground for nearby residents three years ago when the connecting roads between SKTRJ Kg Sg Buloh and the Kg Panchor/ Mengkabau NHS were completed.
Md Jainudin said he had met with officials from the Housing Development Department and the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) on April 25 this year to discuss the issue.
An official from the Housing Development Department on Wednesday said the area has been cordoned off with barriers made of wood and steel.
"I would like to advise the general public to dump their rubbish at proper dump sites or subscribe to waste collection services," he said.
The Kg Panchor/ Mengkabau NHS is not better off.
Earlier this year, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) Abdurahman Abdul Aziz assured media that JASTRe would be in charge of maintaining the area.
However, when The Brunei Times visited the area yesterday, there were heaps of rubbish - food wrappers, empty cans, used diapers and paper, among others - at an empty lot.
JASTRe could not be contacted for comments.
A similar sight can be seen at the Kg Meragang NHS in Mukim Serasa.
Piles of rubbish could be seen along the roadside and at many open areas.
Penghulu Mukim Serasa Major (Rtd) Hj Johari Hj Abd Razak, who is also the Acting Village HeaD of the Kg Meragang NHS, said there is a dumping site provided by the Housing Development Department in the area.
"However, there were times when the rubbish was not collected for several days and even up to a week. This attracted animals such as wild monkeys and stray dogs. These wild animals would go through the bags of rubbish and make the area (filthy)," Major Hj Johari said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Major (Rtd) Hj Johari believed the problem lies with weak enforcement from the relevant authorities.
"As a grassroots leader, I have already done my part. When I contacted the Housing Development Department, I got no response," he said.
The village head of the Kg Mata-Mata NHS felt that proper dumping sites are a necessity to eradicate the problem.
"This is because Bruneians are not willing to subscribe to waste collection services," said Pg Hj Salleh Pg Hj Abd Rahman.
Founder of Green Brunei Khairunnisa Ash'ari said waste collection services are not popular in Brunei due to lack of awareness.
"Door-to-door waste collection is a common system in other countries to tackle waste management issues. We already have such systems in Brunei but it's not widely utilised, perhaps due to cost and lack of awareness on the service," she said.
Khairunnisa then pointed out that accessibility to bins has always been the first step towards reducing waste problems.
"This needs to be combined with regulation, which includes monitoring by authorities to ensure that illegal dumping is tackled. Education and awareness campaigns, while important, is not always enough," she added.
Minister of Development Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman earlier this month urged residents to subscribe to the waste collection services, saying that an increase in the number of customers could encourage waste collection companies to lower their prices.
A waste collection company based in Brunei-Muara, who declined to be named, suggested that the minister of development make the subscription of waste collection services compulsory for every household in Brunei.
"Brunei should emulate and practise waste management systems in other countries where the government privatises waste management services to make it more efficient," said the manager.