TO be fair, we should give two sides of the story and credit where it’s due.
Our story is about the Subang Jaya City Council which was accused by a tabloid on Dec 17 of sponsoring crony waste management contractors.
In fact, the council had asked for waste contractors to register with its Environmental Management Department by the end of the year.
It had also advertised this registration exercise in major newspapers in August, said Hafiz Sharif, the deputy director of the anti-pollution unit of the Department of Environmental Management.
Out of the 40 known waste contractors in Subang Jaya, only 16 applied, some of them being members of the well-established Solid Waste Contractors Association.
The problem arises because the MPSJ has made it mandatory that the business owner must show proof that it has an MPSJ-registered waste contractor to cleanse its premises.
“We suddenly got so many calls from Subang Jaya companies asking us to give them contracts to prove that they had a registered waste management contractor,” said David Zon, the past president of Sowaco.
In order to expedite the renewal of business licenses, Hafiz said that the MPSJ would allow business operators to use their existing waste contractors on condition that these waste contractors forthwith register with the MPSJ.
“The objective of the exercise to register waste management contractors is to minimise illegal dumping, most of which consisted of industrial/commercial waste and renovation debris,” said Hafiz.
Did you know that the biggest restaurants and corner coffee shops in Subang Jaya can generate as many bags of food waste as they want and pay only RM1040 a year for a daily collection 365 days a year? These are the kinds of unrealistic rates that prevail in the Klang Valley.
Zon, the owner of Hitech Waste Management, says that regarding food waste from commercial outlets, he proposed to the MPSJ some time ago to charge RM30/day for daily collection of a 160 litre wheelie bin, RM60/day for daily collection of a 240 litre bin, and RM80/day for a 660 litre bin. This is the price of collection and transportation to the legal disposal site and the cost of the landfill at RM34 per tonne.
When the local government wants to increase the cost of garbage disposal, the YB’s who want to appear to be local heroes will come charging out to defend the coffee shops against higher waste management rates.
So who pays the bill? It’s you and me, who pay the household rates. And for many areas even the household rates are too low for contractors to invest in better equipment and improve their service.
The unrealistic approach to waste management is also reflected by some leaders on two sides of the political divide who call for the closing of illegal dump sites. This is contrary to the situation where the Klang Valley needs more disposal sites and the local governments should work on legalising the illegal sites or establish alternative sites for construction debris.
Otherwise, illegal dumping costs the MPSJ about RM1 million a year, which is obviously not enough because some of these illegal dumps are permanently there.
Now let me give you some insight about the municipal waste management business.
It’s not the MPSJ that is cheating. Yes, eight years ago, there was the racket of forcing business owners to appoint pest controllers some of whom had no license themselves. But now is now and the MPSJ’s rubbish department is on the level.
Even at the national level, some of our politicians are trying to be populist and deny the reality that the Klang Valley and Malaysia can be much cleaner if they allocate more funds to basic waste management service. If they budgeted for more construction debris mini landfills, transfer stations and community recycling centres including green waste composting yards, we could have a cleaner Malaysia.
Instead, our councils divert the tax payers’ money to non-essential decorative lamp-posts, fountains and landscaping with bonsai trees.
The very fact that there is illegal dumping of mattresses and furniture show that householders are willing to transport their bulky waste away: it’s just that they don’t have a legal place to dump it.
Even if they knew the legal disposal sites, they wouldn’t drive 45km to Bukit Tagar or 25km to the Taman Beringin transfer station, nor would they be allowed inside these gazzeted security areas.
On another related subject, many of us are offended by the sight of motorists throwing rubbish out of their car windows.
Datuk Ab Rahim Md Noor is also upset and his department has issued 31 notices to motorists who had been caught throwing rubbish from vehicles. Ab Rahman is the chief executive officer of the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (PPSPPA).
It would be good if the PSPPA offer a RM250 reward for video recordings of drivers and/or their occupants who throw rubbish out of vehicles, whether stationary or moving. Why RM250? That’s to pay for the cost of the car mounted digital video recorder as well as an honorarium for bothering to email it.
And while he’s at it, the PPSPPA should also have a good website that can accept the video evidence by email: maybe Dropbox?