IF you have watched some old movies, you have probably seen that side character who carries two wooden buckets using a pole hoisted on his shoulders.
That was the night soil collector – the person who carts off the waste-filled buckets from the toilets to be disposed of someplace else.
Before the 1950s, this job, which many considered dirty, was commonplace in our society due to the lack of a systematic sewerage network then.
This changed in the early 1960s, with the usage of septic tanks and oxidation ponds to transport and treat sewage respectively.
Fast forward to April 2, 1994, Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn Bhd was formed, which took over sewage services from local authorities.
These events are chronicled at the recently launched IWK Sewerage Gallery at the Serantau Pantai 1 sewage treatment plant in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur.
The exhibits here walk visitors through the various technologies used in sewage services since before the 1900s.
The building has also received a Heritage Building status from the National Heritage Department.
Officiating at the launch, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the gallery sheds light on the evolution of sewage services.
“The population increase and changing demographics have had an impact on our sewerage system.
“The lack of efficiencies in sewerage and drainage systems have led to many pollution incidents,” he said.
The minister said IWK currently operates over 7,000 treatment plants and 22,000km of sewer pipes, in addition to 1.4 million septic tanks and 800,000 toilet tanks nationwide.
He said the upscale in the service capacity highlighted the need to review the service tariff, which has yet to be updated since IWK began operation.
The gallery launch was in conjunction with the World Toilet Day, which falls on Nov 19 every year.
Tuan Ibrahim urged Malaysians to use public toilets responsibly and to appreciate the cleaners.
“Don’t take such facilities for granted by leaving them solely to the cleaners to look after,” he added.
IWK chief executive officer Narendran Maniam, in a statement, said the company was committed to supporting the government’s sustainability initiative.
He said the company had conducted various research and development initiatives to produce bioproducts from wastewater.
“Our plants produce about 5,579 million litres of treated effluent a day, that is released to the drainage systems and rivers.
“We have made various efforts to reuse treated wastewater as an alternative water source for non-drinking purposes,” he said.
In March, IWK inked an agreement with Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd to produce non-potable treated water for industrial use, under the Water Services Industry (Desludging Services) Regulations 2021.
Accompanying Tuan Ibrahim at the launch event were his deputy Datuk Dr Mansor Othman and Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Abd Muttalib.
Joining them were IWK chairman Ahmad Johnie Zawawi and National Water Services Commission chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Faizal Abdul Rahman.
IWK, a company owned by Minister of Finance Inc, services nearly 26.5 million consumers nationwide.
Those interested to visit the gallery may write to firstname.lastname@example.org.