KOTA KINABALU: The community must be proactive in safeguarding rivers against pollution, says Kapayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang.
She said tighter regulations and enforcement were needed to act against people dumping rubbish into rivers or drains that flow into them.
"I hope that all village development security committees in the Kapayan constituency and surrounding communities will cooperate to ensure rivers are not polluted," she said during the River Festival event in conjunction with World River Day in Kg Sodomon, Kapayan, on Sunday (Sept 24).
"Human activities often cause river pollution. The river near Kg Sodomon, polluted by sewage material from drains or ditches that carry garbage, has black-coloured and foul-smelling water that kills many river creatures," Lasimbang said.
Kampung Sodomon village committee chairperson Mary Binisi said installing rubbish traps would help.
She also suggested planting trees along the riverbanks to improve water quality and prevent erosion.
Villagers also suggested a rock embankment to be built along the river in Sodomon Village.
Among the events held for the River Festival were fishing competitions, kayak races, tug-of-war on a raft, climbing on land, making a raft from recycled materials, colouring for children and singing songs related to the river.
Lasimbang said the Environment Department had reported that 195 rivers were slightly polluted, and 34 rivers are polluted in Malaysia.
As such, she said, everyone had a duty to protect the rivers.
"World Rivers Day has particular relevance for Sabah, where river pollution is a growing concern," she said.