Not in my backyard
I thought I will spend a bit of time on the rubbish dump problem that everyone is talking about nowadays. Sungai Akar Dump is interesting - not rubbish dump interesting but it makes a classic administrative failure case study.
The history of rubbish dumps in Brunei has always been where the municipal waste goes to. Once Brunei starts urbanising, that is when rubbish starts being created. Most of us who lived in the non city centre in the earlier days learnt how to deal with our rubbish earlier on which is mostly burning them. But in the municipal area, there are trucks and rubbish collectors who do the rubbish throwing for the residents. In the very early days, rubbish was dumped at Pusar Ulak being the first rubbish dump in Brunei. As Bandar grows bigger and encroached to Pusar Ulak, it was Batu 2 at Jalan Tutong where the second rubbish dump was created.
But even Batu 2 gets encroached by the enlarging Brunei Town, the third dump site was near where the City Hall is at the moment at Kumbang Pasang. Even that was found unsuitable before rubbish was dumped at Jalan Menteri Besar, next to where Ministry of Health is. Yup, that huge forest next to MOH was a former rubbish dump site. The forest has been thinned up now and there is a park built by the Environment Department on it. For a time before government agencies started to be built in the area, Jalan Menteri Besar was for a time known as Jalan Sampah. By the early 80s, that started to be too full and search went on for the fifth dump site.
And that's when Sungai Akar started. Sungai Akar was supposed to have closed down by the end of the 1990s and something to replace it. Sungai Akar was essentially a municipal dump site but by then, rubbish collectors sensing a business opportunity offered their services not just to rubbish inside the municipal area but also to the growing number of households outside it. More and more rubbish was collected and more and more are dumped into Sungai Akar. Everyone expects BSB Municipal Department to find a solution. But it is not their fault too. Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department does not have the ability and by 2004, the newly created Environment, Parks and Recreation Department under the Ministry of Development was asked to take over.
It was only then studies are conducted and by this year under the new five year Development Plan, was the money available to do something about Sungai Akar. Finding a new dump site is not easy - it suffers from the NIMBY effect. Not in my backyard. Alternatives - incinerators etc. But ashes from incinerators need to be kept properly too and not to mention the gases it produces. There are other bio alternatives too. These also suffered from NIMBY effects and other side effects too. What is also important is to get everyone to save and to push the idea of recycling and reusing so that there will be less sampah by every citizen of this country.
NIMBY effect or not, through your blog you have brought this foul issue to the fore. It now needs to be solved head-on and dusted away in one clean sweep! The ripple effect would be unimaginable, I tell you, that even the Brunei River would be gotten rid of its floating rubbish dump, too. I must also add that to teach old dogs to learn new tricks (in a manner of speaking) can be an uphill task...
The implementation of 3R's (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) environmental plan concept will not be as easy as ABC. The Kampong Ayer mentality has been ingrained in our people for centuries since earlier days. Hence, rubbish throwing out of house or car windows are common old habits, die hard kind of behaviour amongst most Bruneians.:( The younger generation, though, are much more appreciative of it!
I am a disgusting commenter in BRo's highly respectable blog, I know. But If I may add one last point: To copy-cat the Japanese mentality when it comes to a much more environmental-friendly and systematic segregation of rubbish bins for different products or wastage according to their bio-degradable reducibility; reusability and re-cyclability e.g plastics to be separated from paper-waste, etc. would most definitely be a great start to a more civilised culture of dumping.
Which leads us to another issue in relation to waste disposal costs that His Majesty's Government has to bear. In order for the waste management companies contracted by the few agencies like the District Office; the Municipal boards or the JASTRE (short for Environmental Department) to be paid handsomely, should the Brunei population or consumers be taxed for disposals of their rubbish? (I hope not!) That brings us to another question, should fines be imposed for not practising the 3Rs approach to proper disposal of their waste? (Enforcement could be a tricky thing to impose!) Or should we just simply go back to basics i.e. it is the full responsibility of the Brunei government to solely shoulder all costs of garbage dumping matters including rubbish collection from all homes?
Logically, it should be the responsibility of each and everyone of us, I know.