MOMENTO…. Nilakrisna James handing momento to Datuk Justin Guka with participants of the EAC toilet cleanliness campaign seminar and 'gotong royong'.
By: ROZIE JUMAT
THE Environmental Action Centre (EAC) started their Toilet Cleanliness Campaign 2011in Bingkor, Saturday, with 50 targeted participants from the local community, the Jawatankuasa Keselamatan Dalam Bandar and Keningau’s Gerakan Belia Dinamik Pedalaman.
Organised by the EAC secretariat, which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, the campaign is headed and coordinated by Nilakrisna James, who is a member of the EAC Management Group.
“The EAC has targeted 6 districts this year and in the next few months this campaign will be heading towards Kinabatangan, Kudat, Penampang, Papar and Beaufort. I have been involved in this type of campaign for several years in other NGOs and have seen no improvement in either the public attitude towards the need to keep our public washrooms clean or the authorities’ commitment to monitor the hygiene and conditions of these public toilets.
“Hopefully, the EAC will begin a more targeted approach of educating and enlisting the assistance of youth NGO volunteers to appreciate the necessity for hygienic and beautiful public spaces and washrooms and participate in community development programs to beautify their own rural countryside.
“These dirty places are demoralising for our rural people and we must expect a higher standard of development and not just brush aside what is ugly because it happens to be in the kampong.
“We don’t promise success but the follow up for the maintenance and cleanliness of public spaces and public toilets must be maintained by the relevant authorities. This is their job. EAC merely creates the community awareness and engage them in active civil participation,” said Nilakrisna.
She added that the public toilets in Pekan Bingkor and Taman Bandukan were inspected by the EAC secretariat and the reports will be presented to the Chairman of EAC and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Michael Emban.
“The toilets in Pekan Bingkor had no water whatsoever and the locals are not aware of any cleaners being employed or contracted by the authorities to be stationed at the public toilet. There is evidence of vandalism with broken doors, unrepaired flushing system, blackened floors and dirty toilet bowls and the smell was so unbearable that our volunteers for community service in this campaign had to wear surgical masks.
“Ordinary cleaning chemicals will not work and we need the authorities to be aware of this problem and the need to use correct industrial chemicals and ensuring that every public toilet has regular cleaners doing the job. Tender these jobs so that the unemployed youths of Keningau can see this as a viable business in the future,” Nilakrisna added.
The campaign started with a seminar given by Helen Erut of the EAC secretariat followed by the gotong royong where 25 young volunteers mobilised by Gerakan Belia Dinamik Pedalaman, headed by Protem President, Juse Reoyston, braved the heat and stench to do what was right for their community in Bingkor.
Guest of Honour, Datuk Justin Guka, UPKO’s Assemblyman for N.33 Bingkor, gave a motivating speech at the seminar whereby he thanked the youths for showing enthusiasm and interest in doing community service and for highlighting their problems and gave his full support in the campaign to clean up Bingkor.
Guka also drew comparisons between neighbouring Asian countries where their rural areas are considered lucrative for tourism and where there is a commitment to keep their countryside clean and pristine, even in the absence of property development, as the natural environment and greenery are considered to be the main attraction for international tourists.