Tugboats use nets to trawl the floating debris which are transported to the city’s sanitary landfill. File Photo: Bernama

KUCHING: Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) controller Richard Tajan does not want people to throw any rubbish into the Sarawak River or any other river.

“The river is the path for water transportation whether big or small,” he told the New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

“It is important to keep the river clean not only for the scenery but also for the safety of water transportation.”

According to Richard, SRB is responsible for cleaning the river such as removing floating debris comprising mostly vegetative and domestic waste.

Richard Tajan

“Rubbish such as weeds, fronds, leaves and tree branches can affect the safety of water transport especially small boats,” he said.

According to him, SRB hires contractors who operate from 7am to 5pm to clear the river daily using three tugboats and four longboats. The tenders for the work are renewed every year.

“Tugboats use nets to trawl the floating debris which are transported to the city’s sanitary landfill,” he said.

“Along the rivers under our inspection, we have traps that prevent rubbish from being pushed against the riverbanks.

“This is because it will be hard for the contractors to collect the rubbish near the riverbanks especially when the rubbish gets stuck under a jetty or in between aquatic plants.

“With the traps, rubbish that flow from upstream would be funnelled towards the centre of the river making it easier to trawl.”

Tugboats use nets to trawl the floating debris which are transported to the city’s sanitary landfill. File Photo: Bernama

SRB officer Angga Maga said 95 per cent of the rubbish collected from the river are vegetative waste such as grass, leaves, wood and trees, while 5 per cent comprises domestic waste.

When asked about the peak rubbish season, Angga said, “The most difficult time is after a drought season. The flow of the river which returns to normal or a flood tends to bring a lot of rubbish from upstream like Bau, Batu Kitang and Serikin.”

A standard operating procedure (SOP) requires the contractors to act within an hour of receiving complaints.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of our rivers. The public cannot just depend on the government alone.”

Recently, SRB carried out many campaigns that focused on creating awareness of river cleanliness upstream of Balingian and Julau.