Mountains of rubbish piling up in Malaysia's flood-hit east coast towns

Villagers salvaging useful items from flood trash at an unregistered disposal site in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Villagers salvaging useful items from flood trash at an unregistered disposal site in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA KRAI, Kelantan (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The streets are painted brown with mud. Mountains of rubbish just keep piling up. And the stench, worse than the pong of rotten eggs, is overpowering.

That is the scenario in many a flood ravaged town in the east coast.

While there are many health concerns in the aftermath of the floods, the more immediate pro­blem appears to be how to manage the piles of garbage that seem to be growing much faster than they can be disposed of.

In Kuala Krai, the rubbish began overflowing when shops started disposing of their inventory and other things damaged by water.

More than 30 lorries were ma­king trips to transport rubbish to a central collecting site. Even so, the mountains of rubbish remain undiminished over the past week.

"We are trying to clear the area of rubbish as soon as possible to prevent any outbreak of diseases," said Mr Teoh Paik Lim, a volunteer from Buddhist Tsu-Chi Merit Society.

Mr Teoh, 47, who hails from Penang, is leading a team of volunteers comprising more than 50 local residents to clean up the town's streets.

Eager to see his hometown clean, Tee Yu Xuan, 17, invited 20 of his friends from his lion dance group to join him in cleaning up Kuala Krai.

"I don't want anyone to fall sick because of uncollected rubbish," said the student from SK Kuala Krai.

Also seen helping to make Kuala Krai habitable again were members of Fo Guang Shan Malaysia and personnel from the Ampang Jaya municipal council.

In Temerloh, Pahang Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation director Mohd Nor Affendi Abdul Aziz said Alam Flora usually collected only about 200 tonnes of rubbish here and in Mentakab on normal days but the amount had grown exponentially.

"We estimate there are now already 15,000 tonnes of rubbish in both districts thrown away by residents while cleaning up their homes," he said.

He said Alam Flora had begun the garbage collection work with assistance from other agencies due to the massive amount of rubbish.

Datuk Mohd Nor Affendi said three locations had been identified as temporary sites to gather bulky and solid waste items damaged in the floods.

These were Taman Tualang Indah, Taman Semantan Permai and Taman Seri Kerinau.

"These damaged and unwanted items will later be transported to the landfill in Kampung Chuat, Bera to be disposed of.

"We will get the help of other agencies including the local authorities to assist in terms of manpower and heavy vehicles," he said.

He said they could not stop scavengers from entering the three tem­porary dump sites to collect recyclable items but they should not set fire to the garbage.

Mr Mohd Nor Affendi said so far, they had identified at least 30 areas and villages with many bulky and discarded items in Temerloh.

"It is an eyesore and is also likely to be a health threat," he added.

Mr Mohd Nor Affendi said a joint committee had been set up with the Temerloh Municipal Council to monitor the situation closely and to take the appropriate measures to clean up the surroundings in Temerloh and Mentakab.

He said the clean-up efforts were focused on Temerloh as the district was the worst hit with many villages and lots of property affected.

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