It’s World Rivers Day today. As a World Vision advocate for WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene), it’s so important we take care of our rivers.Our rivers are our lifeline. Lifeline to a future that ties us to nature; lifeline to new economic possibilities; raw water source for industry and even human consumption.
I went on a trip on the Klang River recently. Once upon a time, It was the main transport artery carrying tin mined in KL to Port Swettenham (now Port Klang). It took about 2.5 days for the boats to make the journey. Settlements grew along the riverbanks, which grew into villages.
Over the years, the villages started to grow into townships and cities as Selangor became an industrial hotbed. Factories started to appear and the river became a convenient dumping ground. Plastics started to pollute the river and the fish died, while the crocodiles, birds and other river animals moved away. By 2012, a boat could not travel in the Klang River without stopping every 500m as it was choking on all kinds of debris, mainly industrial and household. Klang River became known as one of the top 50 dirtiest rivers in the world.
In 2016, the Selangor State Government decided to try to clean Klang River. They tasked it to Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI). Slowly but surely the team, which included the present MD of LLSB, started the process. They realised that Klang River and its riverbank had enormous untapped potential for new opportunities.
In 2018, MBI created Landasan Lumayan Sdn Bhd and introduced the Selangor Maritime Gateway with 3 key pillars:
- clean the Klang River
- rehabilitate it, and
- sustainably rejuvenate an area of 35,612 hectares along the river ecosystem to make it a future source of income for the state as well as providing better quality river water in the long run.
Klang River is 122km. It starts at Klang Gates in Selangor, and then it falls under the ROL project under DBKL, before flowing into Selangor’s jurisdiction again. Due to border issues, the Selangor State Government decided to focus their efforts with the SMG project from Mid Valley to Port Klang, 56km. This project will continue beyond 2031 with the bold objective of reviving Klang River and turning it into a new economic driver for the state.
- 7 logbooms have been installed and > 60,000MT of waste removed in 4.5 years (that’s the weight of 3,000 RapidKL buses)
- 50% reduction in total annual waste collected since 2016
- Reduction in the monthly average waste being extracted of about 900MT/month compared to 1,400MT/month in 2016
- The collaboration with The Ocean Cleanup group via the INTERCEPTOR complements existing cleaning methods.
- River water quality improved from Class V (highly contaminated) in 2016 to Class III (moderately polluted) and even Class IIB on the Water Quality Index
The animals started to return; the migratory birds, the eagles, crocodiles, fish and the otters, known to be highly sensitive to water conditions. Yes, I saw the crocodiles and the otters!
Continue cleaning everyday, while we start on the next level of reviving Klang River through:
- Use technology to rehabilitate Klang River for further cleanliness and better water quality
- Raise the water quality to Class IIA, suitable for body contact and then Class I, can be consumed
- Rehabilitate the defunct Teluk Kapas landfill thus rendering possible new ways to use the revitalised site for community projects
- Urban Rejuvenation & Economic Drivers
- Upgrade and revive Taman Awam Pangkalan Batu as a interactive destination playground & park – opening in stages beginning Q1 2021
- Create a new eco tourism location with experiential travel elements in Taman Rekreasi Mangrove Point – opening in stages beginning end Q1 2021 early Q2
- Develop a new transportation system with the River Taxi project on Klang River which will initially ply 15km connecting Jetty Pangkalan Batu, Fishermen’s Jetty Kampung Sg Udang, Fishermen’s Jetty Kampung Sg Sireh and Jetty Mangrove Point
- Create a new attraction offering retail experience with the future Grand Bazaar at Tanjung Putus, Klang, near the 3rd bridge
- Create a Cultural Village at Teluk Pulai, Klang that will promote arts and culture
- Other short-term targets: urban farming, waste-to-energy, reduce effluents being discharged into river
What can WE do?
Selangor’s ban on single use plastic especially plastic bags and polystyrene since 2017 has seen major successes as we only find a minimal amount of these waste compared to before, which means enforced change makes a difference. BUSINESSES especially FMCGs must recognise that their packaging are major contributors to the pollution in the Klang River. Some ways include:
- Spreading awareness of proper disposal of F&B packaging
- Speeding up the transition to eco-friendlier packaging
- Creating reward systems for sending back packagings with sufficient collection centers
- Recognising rivers for CSR fundings that will go towards further cleaning and public awareness programmes
- Funding green learning in schools
The PEOPLE need to have better awareness and higher empathy for the river and not only when their taps run dry. The simplest things to do:#ThrowItInABin . Understand that rubbish outside your dustbin is washed by heavy rain into the drain which run into the river.