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How can the new solid waste management act ensure better service at the same rates when the same old disposal companies are handling the service and they are not required to be financially responsible for failed delivery?
by Lim Guan Eng
(Melaka, Sunday): Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting’s promise that the government will not impose any new or extra charges on solid waste collection next year is clearly intended to pacify voters. There is no guarantee that such promise can be kept once general elections are over.
Ong had clarified Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak remarks on 24.6.2007 in the press conference that as of next year there would be extra charges for the solid`waste collection. Najib had said the Solid Waste Management and Public Clean-up Bill and Solid Waste Management Corporation Bill would be tabled in Parliament on July 2 and once the two bills were passed, the Government would set up the National Solid Waste Management Department as the regulatory body and the Solid Waste Management Corporation to conduct the operations. This raises the question why did Ong Ka Ting not correct Najib then and whether this clarification is directed at voters in the oncoming general elections.
The more crucial question is, “How can the new solid waste management act ensure better service at the same rates when the same old disposal companies are handling the service and they are not required to be financially responsible for failed delivery?”. The purpose of these two bills are very noble, in reducing solid waste through 3R - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as a way of life.
However Ong must explain the failure of the 3R campaign which achieved a recycle rate of only 4.5% after 7 years of effort? Since the national recycling campaign in 2000, more than RM40 million have been spent on recycling campaign and overseas study tours. However, this campaign is clearly a proven failure by its low recycling rate.
For example, the Ministry has introduced the 3-colour recycling bins throughout the nation in 2000. However, there are complaints from the residents, informing us that although they separated the waste and put them into different bins, when the garbage truck came, all the separated waste were thrown into the truck and brought to the sanitary landfill together.
Further, concession agreements are given out to waste management companies without open tender. Hence the public is unable to evaluate whether these companies are qualified and have the ability to deal with separated and recyclable waste.
There must be accountability and transparency in solid waste management. Unless these basic weaknesses are resolved, the aim of a solid waste management system which is consolidated, cost-effective, acceptable to society and one which puts priority in conserving the environment and ensures that public health is guaranteed – will be a waste of public funds and effort.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP