‘Our rivers deserve respect’
-The Borneo Post-
KUCHING: Sarawakians must stop treating the state’s rivers as an all-purpose waste disposal bin as there is a limit on what the government could do in terms of rehabilitation, said Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Opening World Rivers Day 2011 at Kuching Waterfront yesterday, the chief minister said a good habit to nurture among the rakyat would be to raise the red flag whenever they see someone throwing rubbish, no matter how big or small, into rivers.
“Do not take our rivers for granted, and stop treating them like an all-purpose vehicle for waste disposal.
“Malaysia is a developing country that can’t afford to spend a lot on river rehabilitation. We must work harder to conserve rivers so as to tackle environmental issues.
“We want to make Kuching the first city to exude exemplary environmental care, and lead the rest.”
Taib reminded the people that the state’s population was now well over two million, and the volume of waste were expected to continue increasing.
“As our population grows and the state going for industrialisation, we must ensure that the pollution of our rivers will never increase at the rate of our industrialisation.
“Otherwise, all of us will have to pay the price.”
Taib said Sarawakians deserved to have clean rivers which they could use for a myriad of activities such as games, recreation, and relaxation.
He told those present that the government would be injecting RM4 billion into the centralised sewerage system here.
“The sewerage system is going to cut down a lot of pollution of our rivers because all the waste water from households and other premises would be treated first before being allowed into our rivers.”
He expressed confidence that the state would be able to successfully rejuvenate degraded rivers, so as to prevent them from “becoming dead as they were.”
“I know Sungai Tabuan will be a lot better within 10 years; Sungai Bintangor is being cleaned at the moment and will become as clean as Sungai Sarawak itself one day.”
Earlier, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas pointed out that Sungai Sarawak remained the cleanest river in Malaysia as of today.
Quoting data compiled last year by the Department of Environment (DOE), he said 51.4 per cent of the 570 rivers in the country were categorised as clean, 35.6 per cent slightly polluted, and the remaining 13 per cent polluted.
In Sarawak alone, eleven of the 51 rivers being monitored by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) were categorised as clean, 30 slightly polluted, and the rest polluted.