Community pitches in to protect river

Desa Anggerik residents pitching in to clean up Sungai Selaru.

DESA Anggerik residents are taking the lead in being proactive by cleaning and maintaining a river near their village in Serendah, Selangor.

Calling themselves Friends of Sungai Selaru, they have been doing their bit in protecting their environment since late last year.

Among those who joined the latest round of clean-up was Khairuzaman Abdul Kadir, 50, who believed that such activity could create a stronger bond between residents.

“Not only do we get a clean river, we get to know each other better. Before this, I only got to meet them at our village’s mosque but we did not get to talk much.

“But now, I feel like I know them better. As one of the mosque committee members, I plan to invite our youths to join this activity soon.

“It is vital to involve the youth, as it will educate them on the importance of protecting the rivers as well as get them into community activities, ” he told StarMetro.

Held every Sunday morning, the residents would be at the riverbank as early as 8am with the needed equipment and gear. Some residents would contribute food and drinks for the participants.

Desa Anggerik Neighbourhood Watch Committee (KRT) chairman Shushimi Aksah, 61, said since the activity started, they had put about 200 bags of sand at the riverbank.

Villagers working together to improve the condition of the river near Desa Anggerik in Serendah.Villagers working together to improve the condition of the river near Desa Anggerik in Serendah.

“When we started, we knew the first thing we had to do was to strengthen the riverbank to protect the shady trees located along the river.

“After several meetings, we decided the easiest way to do so was to use sand bags, so we used sand taken from the river and filled up plastic gunny sacks donated by a resident, ” he said.

Shushimi said there were times when villagers relied on the river for water supply.

“Among the reasons why it is crucial to keep this river clean is because there have been occasions where the villagers do not have water supply.

“There were even some of those who lived outside the village coming here for the water, ” he said.

“It took months of planning before finally committing to this activity. Our goal is to make sure the river is in pristine condition at all times so that the villagers and others can take water from the river when we really need it, ” he said, adding that the villagers also planned to set up a campsite, a jungle track and an open area for various activities near the river in the future.

Mohamad Asari Daud, 58, said this was a step to increase awareness in keeping rivers clean.

Mohamad Asari, who is also Friends of River Malaysia secretary-general, said their goal was to have each member take care of nearby rivers.

“Since Desa Anggerik has Sungai Selaru, it is my responsibility to take care of it.

“Initially, we wanted to just clean the river but as we explored the area, we noticed that Sungai Selaru had a lot of potential as a recreational site and could be turned into one for residents and even visitors, ” he said.

“When we first started to work on the idea, it was just a small group of us. We were not sure if other residents would join us, but for me, the number did not matter. Even if it was just three or four people, it was okay.

“The key is to start somewhere.

“But to my surprise, we have at least 30 volunteers coming in every session and everyone seems to have fun. I am glad the initiative is getting such a positive response, ” he added.

Mohamad Asari said the community was also mulling over setting up a special committee to ensure the cleanliness of Sungai Selaru.

“The main problem in Malaysia is indiscriminate dumping of rubbish into rivers.

“To ensure that does not happen to Sungai Selaru, we will set up a committee to monitor this river, ” he said.

“I hope that our activity will inspire others to do the same.

“We should not rely on local councils to take care of our river, it is everyone’s responsibility, ” he stressed.

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