ILLEGAL dumping of rubbish by unscrupulous people has been rampant in Johor over the past few years.
The 15 local authorities in the state have been taking all measures to clear the illegal dumpsites as well as catch the culprits.
Even landowners who allow their plots to be used for dumping will face legal action.
Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation Sdn Bhd (SWCorp) has identified 321 of such sites in Johor between 2016 and the start of this year, most of which are within the jurisdiction of the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP).
Johor SWCorp director Cairul Hisham Jalaluddin said the company cleared 127 of the illegal dumpsites in the state over the past five years.
The illegal activity at 97 of the 321 sites, he said, went on repeatedly despite cleaning efforts undertaken by the company.
“The culprits dump the waste at illegal sites with no concern for residents living in the area or the damage to the environment, ’’ said Cairul.
He said Johor Baru and Iskandar Puteri cities had the highest number of illegal dumpsites in the state with 63 and 68 sites respectively from 2016 to 2020.
There were 19 repeat sites in Johor Baru and 49 in Iskandar Puteri during the corresponding period, he further disclosed.
He said the areas targeted by those guilty of illegal dumping were usually non-accessible by cars, only by lorries or 4WD vehicles.
Some landowners were also being paid for the use of their space, he said.
He warned such landowners that they could also face legal action.
Most of the illegal dumpsites were located in Johor Baru and Iskandar Puteri because of booming construction activities in both areas, he added.
Pasir Gudang, said Cairul, had the third highest number of illegal dumpsites in Johor.
Out of the 44 there, 14 were repeat sites for illegal dumping activities, he said.
This is followed by Batu Pahat/Yong Peng with 11 illegal dumpsites, Kluang/Simpang Renggam (11, of which 10 are repeat sites), Kota Tinggi (10, four repeat sites), Mersing (eight, one repeat site), Segamat/Labis (seven, two repeat sites) and Muar/Tangkak (four, two repeat sites).
Cairul said all local authorities in Johor were grappling with illegal dumpsites within their jurisdictions.
Besides MBJB and MBIP, the others are Pasir Gudang City Council (MBPG), Kulai Municipal Council (MPKu), Muar Municipal Council (MPM), Batu Pahat Municipal Council (MPBP), Kluang Municipal Council (MPK) and Segamat Municipal Council (MPS).
The district councils are Yong Peng (MDYP), Pontian (MDP), Tangkak (MDT), Kota Tinggi (MDKT), Simpang Renggam (MDSR), Mersing (MDM) and Labis (MDL).
“About 90% of the illegal dumpsites in Johor are used by waste disposal contractors, construction and even recycling companies to dispose of their waste without paying the required fees, ’’ Cairul said.
Most of the illegal sites, he said, were located in isolated areas hidden from public view, usually near secondary jungles and by riverbanks instead of at designated landfills.
He said it was difficult to keep tabs on the illegal operators’ modus operandi as most of the construction companies and waste disposal contractors hired third parties to dispose of the rubbish.
He added that most of the offenders dumped their rubbish during the wee hours of the morning to avoid being caught by the authorities.
Cairul said the illegal dumping sites often became ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, including Aedes mosquitoes and that was the main reason why dengue cases were more prevalent in urban areas of Iskandar Malaysia.
“Rubbish from the illegal dumpsites also clog drains and other waterways.’’
He said the number of illegal dumpsites in Johor declined significantly between 2016 and 2018, only to increase again in 2019 and 2020.
He said the figures went down from 47 in 2016 to 30 in 2017, and declined further to 22 sites in 2018, but the number went up to 61 in 2019 and 64 in 2020.
“The increase in 2019 and 2020 could be due to more effective enforcement and better awareness among the public who would then inform the authorities for action to be taken, ’’ he added.
He said Johor SWCorp set up a unit in early 2019 to monitor illegal dumpsites in the state, which helped to uncover more illegal dumpsites in 2019 and 2020.
The unit with 60 enforcement officers, he said, focused on identifying the sites and taking action against offenders.
“There are eight enforcement officers monitoring the MBJB areas, six in MBIP and three in MBPG.”
He said 19 cases of illegal dumping had been resolved so far, with penalties totalling RM275,000 issued to companies found guilty and one offender jailed for a year for failing to pay the fine.
“We are now gathering more evidence for some other cases; this usually takes between six and 12 months, ’’ said Cairul.
Those caught dumping waste illegally will be prosecuted under Section 71(2) of the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) that carries a minimum fine of RM10,000 and maximum RM100,000, or a jail term of six months to five years.
The Johor government will also seize private land used as illegal dumpsites in the state beginning this year.
State housing and local government committee chairman Ayub Jamil said action would be taken against landowners who had repeatedly ignored warnings from the authorities.
“The action to take away private land from its owner is in accordance with the National Land Code, ’’ he said.
Did you find this article insightful?