Tuesday, October 19

CLEAR to restore Moyog River

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KOTA KINABALU: Once the lifeline for villagers who lived along its banks, a stretch of the Moyog River from Penampang to the Petagas coast is now polluted with household waste, and sometimes, dead livestock.

It has become a dumping ground for items like used diapers and detergent bottles, while a collapsed hanging bridge and bamboo debris are trapping waste at some points as the Moyog makes its way from the headwaters in Kampung Tulung.

Alarmed at the condition of the river, several concerned citizens formed a grouping called the “Community-Led Environmental Awareness for Our River”, or CLEAR for short.

To kick-start what it plans to turn into an active long-term campaign, CLEAR is launching the Moyog River restoration programme on March 17 at the Monsopiad Cultural Village in Kampung Kuai-Kandazon, Penampang.

The launch was timed to coincide with the International Day of Action for Rivers which falls on March 14. It is a day for people to unite in facing threats on rivers from pollution and construction of dams.

CLEAR chairperson Winnie Jimis said the grouping’s objective was to increase awareness among village communities on the importance of restoring and protecting the Moyog River.

“Until the 1960s, the Moyog River was used as a source for drinking water, and was also used for transport to the Kasigui and Putatan settlements.

Villagers also sourced fish and prawns, and used the water from this river to irrigate their paddy fields.

“Unfortunately, now it is listed as a polluted river and most of this is happening due to actions of those who live close to it. We want to use CLEAR to spread awareness that this river must be kept clean, that villagers must stop using it as a rubbish dump,” Winnie said in a statement today.

Winnie said CLEAR is working with headmen to get the campaign off the ground, adding that the campaign will also see a half-year long competition that aims to encourage the different settlements to keep their part of the river clean.

Villages involved in CLEAR’s programmes are Tagad, Kuai-Kandazon, Mahandoi, Terawi, Suok, Digot and Kodundungan.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Ellron Angin is scheduled to launch CLEAR’s event this Saturday.

Winnie said there was no point in conducting a one-day programme, as most people would quickly forget why it is important to keep the river clean.

“This is an initiative that has to be on-going. As we move along, we hope that we will be able to introduce rafting to showcase not just how beautiful the river is once it is clean, but to also highlight the types of flora and fauna on its banks,” she said.

Winnie said if the Moyog River was restored, other future programmes that could be looked at include implementing the tagal system (community-based fisheries resource management) and working with relevant stakeholders in eliminating pollution from storm drains. – Bernama