In a major exercise, the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) is reversing the privatisation of rubbish collection and cleaning services, which were outsourced to private contractors during the Mahathir era.
The Council is hiring 1800 new workers and investing in its own equipment. By the end of last year, it had already recruited 1000 new workers while another 800 are in the process of being hired.
Meanwhile, the MPSP has been terminating the services of the 200-odd privatised rubbish collection contractors, a source familiar with the council revealed.
The idea for the Council to take over the previously outsourced work came from the MPSP councillors themselves a couple of years ago following public complaints of unsatisfactory rubbish collection and cleaning. (This blog had also highlighted the dismal conditions – overflowing rubbish bins, missing bins, clogged drains – at the Taman Tun Dr Awang low-cost flats in Bagan Ajam, Butterworth.)
Rubbish collection and cleaning services in Seberang Perai were originally privatised in the 1980s or 1990s. These privatised services account for well over half the MPSP’s annual budgeted expenditure, said the source.
By 2008, the MPSP was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, its poor financial position aggravated by its spending on extravagant building and ‘beautification’ projects.
The council’s takeover of rubbish collection comes not a moment too soon. “Some of these (privatised) cleaning contractors, especially the cronies, were having a good life, driving fancy cars, while their workers were poorly paid, resulting in little motivation and an inability to attract younger workers,” said the source.
“With the takeover, the MPSP will be better able to control the rubbish collection and cleaning services and pay more decent wages to the workers and hopefully provide better service.” The Council may also be able to reduce the overall expenditure incurred on rubbish collection, the source said.
This is certainly a bold move in the right direction, and we wait and see how it will pan out. Other local councils, please take note.