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Efforts underway to tackle growing waste issue | Borneo Bulletin Online

Efforts underway to tackle growing waste issue | Borneo Bulletin Online

Izah Azahari

The management of waste soil and waste channelled to the Sungai Paku Landfill is set to end by 2030. Thus, efforts are being implemented to employ the latest, innovative methods, particularly for the Brunei River.

This was said by Permanent Secretary (Planning, Land Use and Environment) at the Ministry of Development (MoD) Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak at a press conference on the Minor Offences Act by the Brunei Darussalam Hygiene Issues Steering Committee at the An-Naura Hall of Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex yesterday.

However, she added, the government faces the continued challenge of indiscriminate dumping by irresponsible individuals.

As a result roads, open and hidden sites, coastal areas and drainages have become dumping grounds.

Dr Nor Imtihan shared that the Sultanate generated 285,771.35 metric tonnes of solid waste in 2021, a 6,891.63 metric tonne increase from the previous year, with most of it ending up in landfills across the country.

According to ASEAN Statistics in 2017, Brunei Darussalam was the second highest country in solid waste generation, with 1.4 kilogrammes per capita per day. As such, the Brunei Darussalam Hygiene Issues Steering Committee aims to provide policy direction and strategy for the implementation of actions towards cleanliness for public spaces, including commercial premises, corporate areas and agricultural areas; private residences such as residential areas; and environments surrounded by rivers.

She also shared the achievements of the committee as a whole, under the Stakeholders’ Awareness and Stewardship Action Group, the Improvement of Facilities and Services for Cleanliness Action Group, and the Legal and Enforcement Action Group.

“Ways to address these challenges are to implement strategic planning in the use of allocations, continue the activities of the Hygiene Issues Steering Committee (JIIK), increase environmental awareness activities and monitor activities as well as public cooperation,” she said.

Efforts underway to tackle growing waste issue | Borneo Bulletin Online

Dr Nor Imtihan shared some of the challenges faced by the committee such as the postponement of cleaning campaigns in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, lack of public awareness on importance of cleanliness, and insufficient staff and human resources to monitor waste disposal activities in places not reserved for dumping.

“In support of government efforts to ensure the cleanliness of the country, the JIIK and the MoD as the Chairman of the Improvement of Facilities and Services for Cleanliness Action Group implemented initiatives to improve and upgrade facilities and cleaning services,” Dr Nor Imtihan said.

An BND8.4-million annual expenditure is used to address sanitation issues, especially for upgrading facilities and cleaning and maintenance services such as garbage cleaning work in housing scheme areas carried out by the Housing Development Department through a term contract; garbage cleaning work in urban areas under the control of district offices carried out in-house and through term contracts; garbage cleaning works on roads; surveillance on illegal dumping through CCTV implemented by the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe); garbage cleaning works at parks and the Brunei River as well as solid waste management including the management of landfills in Sungai Paku under JASTRe; monitoring of public toilet hygiene and upgrading of tourist places in terms of hygiene under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT); and garbage cleaning works on drains and sewers under the Department of Drainage and Sewerage, Public Works Department.

The government has allocated a budget to provide cleaning services and facilities related to hygiene, with 80 per cent of expenditure earmarked for waste disposal management in Sungai Paku and cleaning works in parks; 10 per cent reserved for drainage and sewerage cleaning works; and 10 per cent reserved for cleaning works on roads, markets she said.

“Among the directions of the Hygiene Issues Steering Committee Action Group for the Improvement of Facilities and Services for Cleanliness is the improvement of facilities and cleaning services with the use of the latest technology,” Dr Nor Imtihan said. “This includes transforming waste to energy as an alternative to solid waste landfills; skimmer boats, scavenger boats, workboats and collection barges with conveyor belts for the collection of two to four metric tonnes of garbage; and floating debris booms for cleaning drainages.”

To further enhance enforcement against indiscriminate dumping, the government conducts surveillance with the help of hidden CCTV dotted across all four districts.

“The public is encouraged to assist the government in addressing hygiene issues, such as litter disposal and collection, reporting widespread littering as well as reporting unsatisfactory public facilities.”

“Maintaining cleanliness is the responsibility of the public,” Dr Imtihan said.

“Their cooperation is very much needed and appreciated to reduce the cost of government spending on cleaning services. The public is advised to always maintain cleanliness and dispose of garbage in designated areas.”