Malaysians have taken rivers for granted and need to be reminded of the importance of the natural water source.
Despite its rich history, Klang River, stretching some 120km, has been heavily polluted for decades due to ignorance of nearby residents and businesses who have turned the river into a dumping ground.
The river has 13 major tributaries and is the fourth largest river basin in Malaysia. In the 1820s, the Klang River basin became famous for tin mining. It is said that the river’s confluence with the Gombak River gave rise to the name Kuala Lumpur, which means “muddy estuary”.
“The pollution of Klang River is the product of decades of natural waste gathering, coupled with negligence, especially by industries along the river that have used it as a dumping ground for solid and toxic waste,” said Syaiful Azmen Nordin, managing director of Landasan Lumayan Sdn Bhd.
“People have also used the river as their rubbish dump because of the lack of education and civic-mindedness. We have seen everything from household appliances to even carcasses.”
Landasan Lumayan spearheads the Selangor Maritime Gateway (SMG) urban rejuvenation project for Selangor. The project comprises three major components – cleaning, rehabilitation and rejuvenation – of Klang River to raise the appeal of the river to make it once again liveable and viable for recreation and tourism through sustainable development.
“Even the slightest pollution is unacceptable. We have spent the last few years cleaning up the river to a better quality level.
“As we ready it for future rejuvenation plans, we want people to understand what is going into our rivers. We are elevating the water quality to bring life back to the water. In fact, we are seeing new species of fish and even otters and crocodiles returning to our river.”
River management under the SMG project uses a combination of cleaning and surveillance with seven log booms set up strategically along a 56km stretch
from Mid Valley to the river mouth at Port Klang, that serve as barriers to collect and contain floating garbage.
Some 50,000 tonnes of debris was extracted from the river in the last four years – equivalent the weight of 2,500 large buses.
Syaiful added the public need to see what has been dumped in the river so that they will be more conscientious about maintaining river cleanliness.
He added the company is researching the most suitable river cleaning system for Klang River. It is examining new methods to catch floating debris before it even reaches the main river. The company is also using a multipurpose vessel to collect data on the types of pollutants in the river and is studying the viability of new solar powered technology that intercepts waste using water currents.
Also, SMG will embark on public outreach activities to inject a sense of pride in appreciating and keeping Klang River clean.
“We want this to become a habit just like how more people in Selangor are becoming mindful about single-use plastic bags and plastic straws and are bringing their own reusable bags and containers when marketing and to pack food. It is all about continuous education and mindfulness.
“We can only realise the full potential of our rivers if everyone works together to keep it clean.”
“People need to see the Klang River return to its glory days and we want this to happen in our lifetime,” he added.