Klang River sees life again but businesses must educate consumers on downside of dumping

In 2016, the Selangor government started an initiative to clean up Klang River which was once ranked among the 50 dirtiest in the world.

Four years of work is starting to bear fruit as there has been a 50 per cent reduction in total annual waste collected. Along the way, 60,000 tonnes of waste – the weight of 3,000 RapidKL buses – has been removed from the river.

The river water quality improved from Class V (highly contaminated) in 2016 to Class III (moderately polluted) and Class IIB (recreational use with body contact) on the Water Quality Index.

The goal is to raise it to Class IIA (conventional treatment required) and then Class I for consumption.

Migratory birds and eagles, fish and otters have returned to the river. More surprisingly, there are even crocodiles!

From 2016 to 2018, Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) was heavily involved in the process but since then, Landasan Lumayan Sdn Bhd (LLSB) has been tasked to transform Klang River into the Selangor Maritime Gateway.

The three key pillars of the Selangor Maritime Gateway (SMG) are:

  • Clean Klang River
  • Rehabilitate it
  • Sustainably rejuvenate 35,612 hectares along the river ecosystem to make it a future source of income for the state as well as providing better quality river water in the long run.

LLSB project and technical manager Mohd Syukri Shaharuddin said the biggest problem is consumers dumping plastic bags, cartons, boxes, bottles and even fridges into Klang River.

“Businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector must play their part too,” said Mohd Syukri.

“They need to educate consumers on how best to dispose of their packaging that is a major contributor to pollution.

“We have seven log booms to help ‘capture’ rubbish thrown into the 122km-long Klang River. Most of the items are from the FMCG sector – which is why I feel we need those businesses to reach out to educate their consumers.”

Log boom derives its name from a barrier placed in a river to collect and/or contain floating logs timbered from nearby forests. It is sometimes called a fence or bag.

LLSB is also collaborating with The Ocean Cleanup group that has provided an ‘Interceptor’ which complements the existing cleaning method. The vessel has been moored near the Masjid Diraja Bandar Klang since mid-Aug 2019.

The Interceptor has the ability and capacity to clear up at least 100,000kg of garbage daily from the river.

Separately, Syukri said Selangor’s ban on single-use plastic meant fewer of such items being dumped into the Klang River.

However, one hurdle in cleaning Klang River is the jurisdiction issue as the river flows through Kuala Lumpur as well.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has its own River of Life project. As such, Selangor is focusing on the 56km stretch from Mid Valley to Port Klang.

Nonetheless, SMG will continue beyond 2031 with the bold objective of reviving Klang River and turning it into a new economic driver for the state.

“The public must also realise that much of the rubbish comes from Petaling Jaya and Subang. It flows from there to Klang. But it is Klang which gets the bad name,” said Syukri.

“We have big plans for Klang River, including upgrading and reviving Taman Awam Pangkalan Batu as an interactive playground and park.

“We also hope to create a new ecotourism location with experiential travel elements in Taman Rekreasi Mangrove Point in the middle of 2021.”

Other plans include:

  • A new retail experience with the future Grand Bazaar at Tanjung Putus.
  • A cultural village at Teluk Pulai to promote arts and culture.
  • Other short-term targets: urban farming, waste-to-energy, reduce effluents discharged into the river.
  • New transportation system with the River Taxi project on Klang River which will initially ply 15km connecting Jetty Pangkalan Batu, Fishermen’s Jetty Kampung Sg Udang, Fishermen’s Jetty Kampung Sg Sireh and Jetty Mangrove Point.
  • Rehabilitate the defunct Telok Kapas landfill and use it for community projects.
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