Johor villagers worry over pollution as river water turns black

Sungai Kopok in Pasir Gudang, Johor. Villagers say the water in the river has turned black and emits a foul smell, especially after rain. (Bernama pic)

JOHOR BAHRU: Residents of Kampung Acheh in Pasir Gudang here have expressed concern over the water in Sungai Kopok, which they say has turned black and is emitting a foul stench.

They say the water in the river, which is connected to Sungai Kim Kim and which they use for their daily activities, deteriorated in condition following the chemical waste dump incident there in March.

Village head Othman Adon said the 15km river is believed to be contaminated by waste from nearby factories.

He said authorities such as the Department of Environment (DoE), Department of Irrigation and Drainage and Pasir Gudang Municipal Council had been informed of the matter, but that no solution had been found so far.

“If you look at the river, especially after rain, the water will turn black and there will be an unbearable foul stench.

“We want the authorities to help solve this problem, especially for fishermen who are adversely affected as they have lost their source of income. In the past, the village had a lively atmosphere with outsiders coming here to buy fish, but not anymore,” he told reporters at the Kampung Acheh jetty yesterday.

Othman said children used to swim in the river, especially around the jetty area, but not anymore as there were concerns that it would affect their health.

A check by reporters and photographers around the upstream part of Sungai Daing, which is estimated to be more than a kilometre long and connected to Sungai Kopok, found the water to be black, foamy, oily, with black substances floating on the surface.

Fisherman Isamadi Abd Rahman, 45, who brought the reporters and photographers to the scene, said due to the pollution, he and other fishermen had to find odd jobs in the area to support their families.

“We now have to go to other places to look for fish. In the past, we didn’t have to go out and find a source of income from the river.

“Please help us fishermen here. Many of us have to work in factories and taking up carpentry due to the polluted river,” he said.

Johor DoE director Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar, when contacted by Bernama, said he had not received any reports pertaining to the pollution in Sungai Kopok.