Haphazard dumping a squeeze on budgets in Malaysia

Haphazard dumping a squeeze on budgets in Malaysia
Irresponsible act: Old tables from a restaurant in Petaling Jaya are dumped on a piece of land off a main road.
PHOTO: The Star

ILLEGAL dumping of bulk waste is a never-ending problem in Selangor and some local councils are paying private contractors millions of ringgit to clear them.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) spent about RM12mil from last year to July this year to remove bulk waste such as broken furniture, electrical items and garden refuse.

The sum included tipping fees charged by landfill operators where the bulk waste were disposed.

MBPJ Solid Waste Management and Public Cleaning Department director Lee Lih Shyan said cleaning up of illegal dumping sites squeezed the council's budget and the figures were on the rise.

"Last year's contractors' cleaning service fee throughout Petaling Jaya was about RM4.6mil where 23,409 tonnes of bulk waste was collected and dumped at the landfills in Jeram, Kuang and Dengkil for a tipping fee of RM782,841.

"From January to July, more pick-ups were needed and the contractors' fee shot up to about RM6mil where 30,682 tonnes of waste were collected with an estimated tipping fee of RM1mil," he added.

Lee said the bulk waste included huge amounts of garden refuse including tree branches and trunks left on roadsides.

Illegal dumping of bulk waste is more evident in urban areas with unscrupulous people throwing them anywhere they liked, just to avoid paying the local authorities for the disposal service.

Selangor Local Government, New Village Development and Legalising of Factories committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah said illegal dumping of bulk waste was a problem for all local councils and it was associated with the concentration of population.

"Urban areas with higher population see more incidents of bulk waste dumping than the suburbs of Selangor," he said, adding that bulk waste were dumped on quiet roads, private or public vacant plots of land in isolated areas and even on road shoulders at residential areas.

"Local councils found that dumping took place more at urban neighbourhoods and it happens mostly during festive seasons or during cultural practices of house cleaning," he said.

Among items frequently dumped are household waste comprising old furniture, broken electrical items, mattresses and heaps of garden waste, while small businesses dumped renovation debris, plastic containers, old tyres and even market wastes including animal innards.

"Items dumped varies from council to council because such behaviour depends on demographics, geographic location, educational level, economic status and housing categories.

"Dumped bulk items are a lost resource as most items can be recycled, particularly garden organic waste, beverage containers, sofa sets, fridges, computers, tyres and car parts.

Ean Yong added that Kajang Municpal Council had cleared about 35,000 tonnes of bulk waste last year at a cost of RM900,000 while Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) spent about RM1.3mil to clear over 40 tonnes of bulk waste.

Between January and June, MPS had spent close to RM800,000 to clear bulk waste.

Petaling Jaya's Section 10 Residents Association president Ronald Danker said placing communal street bins a month before each festive celebration could curb illegal dumping of bulk waste.

"Communal street bins for bulk waste collection must be placed at neighbourhoods free of charge," he said.

MBPJ began its bulk waste pick-up services in April to curb illegal dumping and saw a lukewarm response.

To-date, 60 households had utilised the bulk waste pick-up services from April to September where a fee of RM150 is charged for a three-tonne pick-up truck.

MBPJ councillor Peter Chong said people should know that dumping at unspecified places was illegal and that ultimately the assessment tax was used to clear the waste.

He also said that lack of prosecution was an added problem.

Selangor Council of Justices of the Peace member P.S. Maniam said all 12 local councils in Selangor should provide collection of bulk waste for free and recycle the trash.

"With current economic times, most wooden furniture can be salvaged and resold while other materials can be recycled.

"Garden waste including tree branches and trunks can be turned into compost and sold as manure.

"If the local authorities use this approach, than less items will end up in the landfill," he added.

Maniam added that if the bulk waste collection was made free, it would stop the private collectors from dumping illegally.

Klang Municipal Council (MPK) spent about RM2mil last year to clean up bulk waste, said its councillor Sabastien Rao.

"From January to August, the estimated clean-up cost stood at RM425,000. All these monies can be used for better public amenities," he said.

He added that the council provided bulk waste pick-up services at RM100 for three tonnes but most of the time people chose to dump their furniture, refrigerator and mattresses in back lanes or by the roadside.

"Dumping of bulk waste has become a persistent problem throughout Klang. All this is because of a combination of problems such as ratepayers' lack of awareness on pick-up services and people's disregard for the council's regulations," he added.

During StarMetro's check at dumping hotspots in Taman Sentosa and Klang Jaya in south Klang with Rao, a resident, Gan Yee Chuan, 34, said bulk items had been dumped illegally next to a row of shophouses off Jalan Selampit 21A in Klang Jaya for years.

"Even worse, the garbage dumped in huge piles are burnt at night," said Gan.

Rao who assumed the post of councillor in April, said MPK had hired contractors to clean up bulk waste dumped on roadsides.

"For Klang Jaya and Taman Sentosa, we have contractors to service the neighbourhoods three times a week using pick-up trucks.

"I have to admit that MPK's Solid Waste Management Department had to tighten the collection mechanism where contractors must produce the landfill tipping fee docket to the council to ensure the wastes are dumped in a proper manner," he said.

A senior MPK employee said some contractors dumped the collected bulk waste into Sungai Kelang or at vacant plots of land instead of taking it to the landfill.

She alleged that some contractors registered to use a three-tonne truck to qualify for the contract but used a one-tonne truck instead, short-changing the council and not collecting the bulk waste.

Rao said ratepayers should be given the collection schedule and the council should ensure collection was done according to the contract.

"Other than creating awareness, the council has agreed at its full board meeting to allow the enforcement officers to seize vans, trucks or lorries caught for dumping bulk waste.

"Our approach allows enforcement officers to stop, search and on the spot seize vehicles suspected of disposing illegal waste," he said, adding that 27 vehicles were seized since July this year.

 

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