Living above a garbage dump

Property News/ 7 October 2010 Leave a comment

MORE than 200 villagers staying in 50 houses on stilts along Jalan Tokong Batu, Jelutong in Penang have been living with rubbish underneath their houses and the foul stench for more than 20 years.

Sungai Pinang assemblyman Koid Teng Guan said the topography of the village, which was located by the sea like Chew Jetty in Weld Quay, had changed following development in the area.

“The village was by the sea just like Chew Jetty but when the area was developed the sea was cut off from the village. The water from the sea flows in via a waterway during high tide, making the village, with houses on stilts, look like it is in a huge pond,” he said.

Koid said that during the high tide, rubbish would flow in with the tide and remain trapped in the village when the tide ebbed.

“We can only clean the rubbish when it floats during high tide because the rubbish is stuck to the bottom during low tide,” he said.

He said besides the difficulty in scraping the rubbish out during the low tide, the process emitted a pungent stench causing the villagers to suffer even more.

Koid added that he had carried out five cleanup operations this year with his service team but the problem persisted due to poor infrastructure and public apathy.

“I have written to the state Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) continuously requesting them to build a filtration system or a device to block the rubbish at the waterway,” he said.

However, he claimed that the suggestion was always turned down due to lack of funds.

When contacted, a state DID spokesperson said the department would look into the matter.

Koid hoped more villagers would co-operate with his service team during cleanup operations.

“Some 70% of the rubbish comes from the sea and the remaining 30% is from the villagers. We hope the residents will help us more during the cleanup operations and also avoid throwing rubbish into the water,” he said.

Most of the rubbish consist of plastic bag and polystyrene containers.

A 60-year-old resident, who did not wish to be named, said the water was clear in his childhood days.

“We could even see fishes swimming in the water compared to the ‘small crocodiles’ that we have right now,” he said referring to the large monitor lizards foraging for food in the rubbish-filled waters.

He added that the land development for the Jelutong waste treatment plant and Jelutong Expressway had worsened the situation.

SOURCE: The Star

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