Our nation is rich with a myriad of natural wonders such as the majestic Mount Kinabalu, Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands and Kanching Falls. We have these beauties to be proud of, but nobody seems to mention about the rivers of Malaysia. Rivers are meant to be one nature’s most magnificent resources, but due to the poor conditions of our rivers, especially in the Klang Valley, it would be a rare sight to see families spending their weekend down at the river.
In fact, rivers are a natural habitat for some species of fishes, but when pollution takes place in these bodies of water, it becomes impossible for consumption any longer. News of river pollution causing the death of these sources of protein sprouted up like wildfire last year, whereby fishes in Penang died in the masses. Not only that, the pollution of river, be it by humankind or from rainwater, has caused the fish supply in Malaysia to decrease immensely.
As a result of this, something has to be done urgently in order to curb water pollution especially in the rivers of Malaysia. However, even with the knowledge, not many would actively do a part in conserving our rivers. Instead, we may perhaps fold our arms and watch and wait as somebody else does it.
One team of Malaysians, led by the MP of Serdang, Ong Kian Ming, saw it fitting to play their part. They went to the extremes when they actively made a difference recently by heading down and kayaked by the Gombak river.
River Of Death
The MP said that according to Jeffrey Lim, an avid cyclist and one of the members of his kayak expedition, he noticed a worrying number of dead fish along the Klang River on the 14th of January.
Jeff, who later tried to trace the source of the dead fish, concluded that the dead fish had originated further upstream, past Kampung Pauh along the Gombak River.
“The dead fish, which may have died as a result of upstream pollution, is especially worrying given that many people eat and sell the fish they catch along the Gombak and Klang Rivers. It is a common sight to see fishermen using a rod or even fishing nets to catch fish along the Gombak and Klang rivers,” Kian Ming said.
Breathing Life Into Our Rivers
The River of Life project was initiated under the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley (Greater KL/LK) initiative back in November of 2010. It comprises river cleansing, beautifying the river corridor to make it a tourist attraction once again, as well as developing government land in order to increase the growth of economy. The project is a 10.7km stretch along Sungai Klang and Sungai Gombak.
Kian Ming decided that he wanted to know more about this project, and so decided to kayak down the Gombak river recently, and even detailed his experience in a video and a 5-part Facebook status update entitled “River of Life Expedition”.
There was much planning involved in order to make the expedition a reality, inclusive of a bicycle recce. Through his experience, Kian Ming noted that there was a part of the Gombak river with falls and rapids, which actually looked quite nice. Though it may be hard to fathom currently, the MP stated in his post, “If properly developed, it would look like a pretty picturesque part of KL.”
More Work To Be Done
This project is a huge undertaking and it’s not something that can be done in just a few days or even a few weeks. To accommodate the progress of the River of Life project, some low cost housing areas with people in small kampungs may have to be displaced. A concern to address would be to provide them with proper compensation and alternative housing.
Kian Ming promises to continue to monitor the progress of the project and look out for other issues such as public access, land sales, effectiveness of river cleaning, and the relocation of people.
“I call upon the Department of Environment (DoE) to investigate the source of the dead fish and to determine if there was and still is serious pollution happening upstream along the Gombak River that may be poisoning the fish in the river. If there is no effort to monitor the level of pollution in the Gombak and Klang Rivers, the estimated RM3.4 billion that will be spend to clean up the river will be wasted,” he added.
Perhaps one day our rivers can be restored to its full health, but until then, this is a valiant effort in order to get to know the situation better. After all, understanding a problem is the first course in order to bring forth a change.
If anything, what the MP of Serdang showed us is that it doesn’t take anyone extraordinary to perform the ordinary. If one is willing to bring forth change, they would do it regardless of the cost.
You can watch the team’s footage of the expedition in the 7-minute video below.