"JOHOR BARU: Mukhtar Helmi and his team collect 15 tonnes of rubbish from the Johor Strait daily. They fish out everything from animal carcasses to plastic bags and disposable baby diapers. Another team, led by Aziz Halil, removes two tonnes of rubbish daily.
All this makes the Johor Strait one of the most polluted waterways in the country.
A seven-kilometre stretch that ends at Danga Bay on the west of the Causeway and an eight-kilometre stretch that ends at Kampung Senibong on the east of the Causeway are the two most badly affected areas. The teams work under the supervision of the Johor Baru City Council which is responsible for the cleanliness of the strait.
Mukhtar said he used two boats to collect the rubbish between 7am and 6pm. "On weekends, we collect up to 25 tonnes of rubbish. This does not include debris such as driftwood," he said.
Aziz said rubbish collection increased to four tonnes on weekends. He uses three boats and seven workers to undertake the job daily. "The rubbish can be a put-off for locals and visitors," he said.
The contractors claimed that squatters, illegal industries and villagers were responsible for discharging solid waste into rivers that flowed into the strait.
Johor Baru Mayor Abdul Latiff Yusof blamed the problem on a lack of civic consciousness. He said funds spent on cleaning up the Johor Strait could be better used on other public projects."