THERE is money in waste and PJBumi senior vice-president and executive director Datuk Dr Muhammad Nong, 57, knows well how to extract value from sewage and everyday refuse.
He has up his sleeves plans to make PJBumi Bhd a leading player in the business of sewage and wastewater treatment.
“In some countries, sewage can be treated and the final product is water which is of the same quality as rain water. The water is Class A quality,” Muhammad said.
Although the thought of drinking water processed from sewage is unpalatable, Muhammad said this water could be used for other purposes besides drinking, including for washing clothes and cars, flushing of toilets, bathing or even for growing of vegetables and flowers.
Other products recycled from sewage, which will eventually become sand-like, are fertilisers and gravel that could be used in the construction of roads. “In Japan, they can even make tar for the resurfacing of roads from the end-product of sewage,” he said.
These are some ideas Muhammad has in the pipeline for PJBumi. But it is left to be seen if the group has actually found a gold- mine in sewage and wastewater.
Nonetheless, Muhammad is a strong advocate in keeping the country's environment and the waterways clean through the proper treatment of sewage and wastewater.
“Water contamination by untreated sewage can be catastrophic as it could bring about a host of diseases like typhoid and cholera. These diseases are unheard of in a developed country like the US,” he said.
He added that there was still a lot to be done in Malaysia to minimise the risk of water pollution brought about by raw and untreated sewage.
‘”It is estimated that each Malaysian produces 230 litres of waste water in a day. This water has to be treated before it reaches the rivers and streams so as to avoid water pollution,” he said.
The economics graduate from Universiti Malaya also holds a doctorate in urban planning from the University of Washington, United States.
He has 23 years of experience in government services, having served in the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Economic Planning Unit, the then Primary Industries Ministry and the Housing and Local Government Ministry.
He was appointed to the PJBumi board in 1999.
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