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Environmental groups have lashed out at Malaysians’ appalling attitude over
proper trash disposal and called for stricter enforcement. Environmental
Protection Society Malaysia president Nithi Nesadurai said Malaysians were “very
casual” about rubbish disposal. “It is not because they lack awareness,” he
said yesterday. “People know that they shouldn’t be flushing rubbish down the
toilet, but they don’t seem to care,” he added.
“This wrong attitude
has become part and parcel of our lifestyle.” Nithi said there was a need for a
drastic change in the public’s mindset. “And, this could happen with stricter
enforcement,” Nithi said. “Perhaps, we should follow the Singaporean way and
penalise those responsible,” he said, adding that besides throwing rubbish into
the sewage systems, Malaysians also had no qualms about littering in public
Yasmin Rasyid concurred. She expressed dismay that people did not
throw their rubbish, including sanitary pads, into proper waste bins. “It seems
that the Malaysian mentality is not up to par and there is only so much that Indah Water Konsortium can do,” she added. Yasmin proposed to make it
mandatory that all coffeeshops, restaurants and other public places provided
trash bins for people to dispose waste, including
used sanitary pads.
“Proper bins may not
be available in rural areas and hence, this may lead some to flush their used
sanitary pads down the toilet,” Yasmin said. Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed said the overflow
of sewage onto roads due to clogged sewer pipes was bad for the environment. “The
pollutants will end up in streams and rivers.”
Dead foetuses among rubbish found clogging up sewage system
Malaysians dump 60,000 tonnes of rubbish an amount that can fill almost 25
Olympic-sized swimming pools into the sewage treatment system every year. Although
the treatment process under Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) is designed for
dealing with domestic waste, the mess that ends up in pipes and treatment
plants includes discarded plastic items, diapers, sanitary pads and condoms.
IWK has also been finding dead foetuses in its treatment plants, some with
umbilical cords attached. There have been an average of five such finds in a
year. “They are usually found in a decayed state and sometimes, without limbs,”
IWK communications head Azzatullina Pawanchik said.
IWK workers had also
come across dumped foetuses while investigating clogged pipes in several areas.
Azzatullina said IWK would usually lodge police reports and help in the
investigations. She said 20,000 cases of clogged sewer pipes were reported last
year, adding that IWK had to spend RM16mil to clear them and another RM8mil to
remove the tonnes of rubbish from sewage treatment plants.
“To unclog sewer
pipes, we have to deploy high pressure, jet-powered machines to clear some
blockages. The exercise requires state of the art equipment, including CCTVs
and skilled manpower,” said Azzatullina. She hoped that the people would play
their role by not throwing foreign objects indiscriminately into toilets. Azzatullina
said the entry of non-sewage items into underground sewerage pipes would block
the flow, resulting in sewage overflowing via manholes on roads.
“The untreated sewage
will then flow into drains, creating pollution and unpleasant situations for
the public,” she said. She said clogged pipes could also create “backflows”
into the toilets of houses.
If the improperly
discarded rubbish passes through the pipes it could eventually enter the
treatment plant and mess up the process.
Apart from rubbish,
other common non-sewage items found in treatment facilities are oil, grease and
industrial sludge. IWK, a sewerage services company owned by Ministry of Finance Incorporated, resolves blockages
within 24 hours. For such services, call its toll-free line at 1-800-88-3495 or
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or sms
36399 (type IWKmessage).