Monday, March 07, 2011

Pressure mounts for Alam Flora to deliver


THE pressure for Alam Flora Sdn Bhd (AFSB) to perform is mounting with local authorities playing the main role in taking action as the expiry date of the company’s annual contracts approach.

Recently, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) decided to take over the sub-contractor tender process from Alam Flora and change it to an open tender system.

The decision, which was deemed controversial, was suspended by the Selangor government but not before 61 contracts out of more than 240 were already awarded.

It was reported that once the three-year contract is awarded, revoking it is impossible. The MPSJ tender board comprising the council president, four councillors, state legal director, state director of quantity surveying and representatives from the State Economic Planning Unit (Upen) were said to have little knowledge on rubbish collection.

Team work: Alam Flora workers cleaning up the streets of Bandar Melawati, Kuala Lumpur commercial centre, during the recent gotong-royong with members of the community.
One of the council members, PAS representative Roslan Shahrir Mohd Shahir, defended the exercise, saying it was done after consulting the state government and Alam Flora.

According to councillor Pooi Weng Keong, AFSB was to be an observer on the board while previously it held the power to determine which company gets the RM70mil annual waste collection and cleaning contract in Subang Jaya.

However, he said AFSB’s commission remained the same as the operations manager in charge of monitoring and managing the sub-contractors.

He added that the process was supposed to have saved RM3.5mil in ratepayers’ money.

Meanhwile, the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) will be embarking on a pilot project to take over Alam Flora’s services after submitting a proposal to the state in January this year.

The project, to begin in June, will see the council, which was ranked worst in terms of waste management in a survey, take charge of 30% of the waste collection while the rest will be taken over gradually from Alam Flora.

MPKj president Datuk Hassan Nawawi Abdul Rahman said that they would meet with the Solid Waste Management Corporation (PPSPPA) for discussions and the council would need to purchase 46 compactors for RM11.5mil and hire 184 workers and drivers.

In Ampang, the proposal not to renew AFSB’s contract that ends in April was supported unanimously by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) councillors.

The proposal was to be forwarded to the state government but council president Datuk Mohammad Yacob said the bulk of the money, RM35mil, used for solid waste collection and road cleaning would remain the same.

Contracts for each local council may differ in terms of the services provided, like in Petaling Jaya where AFSB was contracted by the Petaling Jaya City Council to remove illegal banners between 2009 and 2010, with their fees cut whenever a complaint is lodged.

In 2009, it was reported that handing the task of waste management to the local councils may result in people living on the outskirts of cities ending up with sub-standard services due to lack of resources.

However, the local council had handled waste management before AFSB was set up in 1998.

“There is some improvement since AFSB took over waste management. For instance, the trucks used by the then Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) were in a bad state,” All-Petaling Jaya Selangor Residents Association Coalition (Apac) adviser and former chairman Liew Wei Beng said.

Grass-cutting and other maintenance work that comes under the responsibility of Alam Flora also took a turn for the better though Liew said that there was still room for improvement.

Tedious chore: Alam Flora workers weeding the pavement in Bandar Melawati, Kuala Lumpur during the gotong-royong.
“As for the council taking back the job of waste collection, I believe it will be a costly move as they will need to purchase equipment and hire staff.

“It has also been some time since they did it and their lack of experience could make the move a bad one,” Liew said.

Alam Flora, however, has started to work on new ways to solve the problems they face including illegal dumping.

These steps include installing CCTVs at dumping hotspots as well as proposing innovative new ways of disposing trash by using bacteria.

Other plans for waste management include building incinerators which was a hot topic in Ampang during the MPAJ 2020 Draft Plan hearings that had both locals and people all the way from Petaling Jaya objecting both in person and through objection submissions.

The project is believed to be able to bring the cost of waste management down as waste transportation costs are high and the MPAJ does not have its own solid waste management centre.

All this is happening as the Federal Government, according to various reports, plans to take control of solid waste management in the peninsula by enforcing the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleanliness Act 2007 from April 1.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung had said that with full privatisation coordinated by the ministry’s Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Department, the appointed concessionaires would be subjected to a standard key performance index and have strict requirements to meet.

“Enforcing the Act means interim agreements between concessionaires of solid waste management facilities and local councils would be turned into concession agreements,” he said, adding that the status change enabled the companies to improve their services and apply for bank loans for upgrades or staff increase.

AFSB assumes the full spectrum of solid waste management operations in Selangor, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya and handles 2.1million tonnes of waste annually from almost 8.7million customers, ranging from private homeowners to mega corporations.

Services rendered include cradle-to-grave waste management solutions, encompassing solid waste collection and recovery and final disposal of the waste.

The company also provides specialised services such as road sweeping, drain and tunnel cleaning, grass cutting, bulk waste collection, illegal waste clearing and post-celebration cleaning.

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