KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Overcrowded and dense, these words aptly describe the environment of the Wangsa Sari People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Wangsa Maju, here, which houses more than 270 families, where they are ‘squeezed’ by a chemical factory and car service centre built on riverbank reserve land as well as government-owned land.
A Bernama check found that there was a chemical processing plant built on the bank of Sungai Bunus, located less than 50 meters from the fence of the PPR blocks.
Opposite the factory there are several semi-permanent structures and premises operating as a car service centre making the housing project difficult to access by public vehicles, including ambulances or fire engines, in the event of an emergency.
PPR residents association deputy chairman Mazlan Abdul Latif, said that the industrial operation caused residents to feel uneasy about their safety and health.
Mazlan also claimed that he experienced the situation since he moved to PPR eight years ago.
“If you look at the river flow behind the factory, I am worried about pollution, we do not know how the factory manages and handles waste from its operations,” he said.
Mazlan said that residents were also worried that the fire incident that had occurred involving the car service centre premises four years ago would recur.
“We used to believe that this car service centre was built on privately owned land, but recently we saw a notice posted by the authorities asking the owner to vacate the premises for trespassing on government-owned land.
“We at PPR are already quite crowded and ‘squeezed’, plus with this factory,” he said, and he was also concerned about the safety aspect of the factory and other structures.
Mazlan said that he had lodged complaints with the relevant authorities, including the Land and Mines Office, the Department of Environment and Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and several representatives had come to inspect but there is still no solution.
Meanwhile, one of the residents, Haniza Md Saat, 40, said that the business of scrap goods has led to a pile of scrap metal left around, and has polluted the environment and cleanliness of the residential area apart from inviting poisonous animals.
“Residents often find snakes here. Scrap metal left everywhere which pollutes the scenery and cleanliness and also makes the entrance to the residential blocks narrower, causing residents to be late for work, particularly during peak hours,” she said.
Meamwhile, Syafiq Mustafa, 22, said that the pile of scrap metal and rubbish caused by the industrial activity was feared to be a breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes which can transmit dengue fever.
“The cases of dengue fever here are quite high. Although we maintain the cleanliness of PPR as best we can, the quality of the surrounding environment like this is just beyond our control,” he said.
Syafiq also said that trailers and heavy vehicles plying to the car service centre also led to noise and dust pollution which contributed to respiratory problems, especially among children, the elderly and people with asthma.
Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s chemistry lecturer, Associate Prof Dr Darfizzi Derawi said that industrial activities involving chemicals near residential areas could pose a risk to human health in the long term including chronic diseases such as cancer.
“In general, chemical factories are not very suitable to be set up near residential areas.
“Waste produced from chemical plants can, to some extent, pollute the water or air. However, the level of exposure to risk is either high or low depending on the type of chemicals involved as well as their management,” he said.
He also said that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) needs to be done first before developing an industrial project, especially close to residential areas, in order to control the risk and impact on the environment.