Efforts underway to save Sungai Bintangor and environment

KUCHING: The Kuching City North Commission Datuk Bandar learnt how to swim in Sungai Bintangor, which runs through Kampung Masjid, leading to Sungai Sarawak.

“Those were my younger days. The river was my swimming pool. My friends and I thought we were young Tarzans,” Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai told the audience at the “My Beautiful Sungai Bintangor” launch yesterday.

Despite the programme’s name, it is not a celebration of how beautiful the river is presently, instead, the programme is an effort to make the river beautiful once again.

Over the years, Sungai Bintangor has become one of the “environmentally dead” rivers in Sarawak.

Abdul Wahap said something urgent and involving local residents had to be done to save the river.

“We are guided by what we call ‘CBS’, which can be either ‘Cantik, Bersih dan Selamat’ in Bahasa Malaysia or ‘Clean, Beautiful and Safe’ in English. We are launching this pro- gramme today to ensure that more of us take care of our environment. It is about changing our attitude to be more committed, so that the next generation will not lose out.”

Hundreds of mud balls were thrown into Sungai Bintangor at the launch. The tennis ball-sized orbs are made out of clay soil, lactic acid and photosynthetic bacteria, and yeast.

They are supposed to help break down bad bacteria, like those that cause foul-smelling water, which would lead to more oxygen in the water, improving water quality.

Abdul Wahap said clean rivers were especially important to Kuching given that the rivers were prominent features of the state capital.

At the same event, Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sungai Bintangor’s water quality had improved since the relocation of Satok Market, from Jalan Satok to Matang, near Kubah Ria, at the purpose-built Medan Niaga Satok.

“A lot of the market’s (at the old site) water and waste used to end up in this river, which was part of the reason why we needed to relocate the market. It’s part and parcel of this city’s long-term plans.”

“This river, and Sungai Sarawak, could not take the amount of discharge any longer. They were badly dirty. Today’s event of throwing these mud balls into the river to rehabilitate it is like medicine for Sungai Bintangor,” Johari said.

He added that more recreational facilities, including jetties, would be built along Sungai Bintangor as the river becomes cleaner and cleaner.