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Residents Rely on Social and Customary Law to Tackle Waste Issues

If you are human, do not litter here. One of the locations where warning sign was put up by residents in Air Meles Bawah village. Source: Muhamad Antoni.

November 13, 2018

By Muhamad Antoni

Rejang Lebong, BENGKULU. While the Rejang Lebong district administration struggles with their budget for public education on regulation, residents took matters of waste management into their own hands.

Buyung, a villager from Air Meles Bawah, East Timur subdistrict, put up a no littering warning sign as he often found waste piling up next to his house.

“I have been putting that warning sign for a year. I was really upset because people just throw [their] waste there. So, I put the sign, warning people from littering the area, of course, with the language that would make them reluctant to throw waste,” he said to Ekuatorial, on Wednesday (31/10).

Buyung said he never knew who dumped waste next to his house, but claimed that after he put up the warning sign, he no longer see waste piling up in the area.

“After I put that sign, no one seems to litter on the location,” he added.

In 2017, Rejang Lebong district administration had issued a regulation, locally known as Perda No.4 Year 2017 on Waste Management, which regulates the procedure of throwing wastes and sanctions of littering that include a fine ranging from one to ten million rupiah (US$68.11 – US$681.14).

However, Wahono, the head of Commission II, Rejang Lebong Regional House of Representatives, which oversees forestry, mining and environment, said that the local administration has yet to fully carry out the regulation which took effect in August 2017.

“Since the regulation was issued, there has been no socialization. The reason is not having budget for it. However, in the 2018 revised Regional Budget, the Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency has proposed a budget and [the budget] for socialization of local regulation has been approved, but, they are prioritising the socialization in the city level,” said Wahono, last September.

Amran, head of Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency, said that there was no socialization following the issuance of the regulation due to budget constrain.

“[It is] true that we have not conducted any socialization, because there is no budget. However, there has been direct socialization  by field staff to residents, especially those living near landfills,” said Amran to Ekuatorial, on Monday (29/10).

The socialization, he added, included the procedure and timing of disposing domestic wastes to temporary dump site, before being transferred to a landfill.

Amrais said, he understood why villagers put up their own warning signs against littering, it’s a form of their protest.

“If residents are putting up warning signs as moral reminder, then that is not a crime and no local regulation that prohibits this kind of action. We approve this action, especially when it has immediate deterrent effect,” he said.

Nurkholis Sastro, Bengkulu Coordinator of the Indonesian Conservation Community, WARSI, also said that the warning signs represent a form of protest by the people on waste management.

“Waste issues are leading to horizontal conflicts among residents, that is what it looks like, residents put up signs, at times using harsh words, and that has a deterrent effect on people who dispose their waste as they see fit,” said Sastro.

He added that the sluggishness in educating the public about the waste regulation is not caused by insufficient budget, but mostly because there is lack of creativity from officials.

“Don’t just rely on budget to carry out socialization, but what needs to change is the approach, a method that allows for immediate implementiaion,”Sastro said further.

This approach, Sastro added, could be a direct engagement through village, subdistrict and district officials. For instance they can introduce the practice of separating organic from non-organic waste to housewives,”

“Housewives are the ones who deal directly with waste management, they can be taught how to sort out wastes, organic and non-organic, then how organic waste can be made into compost while non-organic can be recycled,” he said.

Sastro said waste management is of great importance even more today as the volume of waste increases every year, putting more pressure on the capacity of the Rejang Lebong landfill.

“If we don’t manage waste now,  it will affect the capacity of the landfill. Because, as far as I know, the landfill has never been managed properly, the waste pilling up are just flattened,” he said.

Based on the Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency data, the Rejang Lebong landfill receives a total of 40,040 cubic meter of waste in 2016, and increased to to 45,454 cubic meter in 2017. The average of waste disposed to the landfill is 123 cubic meter per day.


A way to reduce waste volume

In 2017, as an effort to reduce waste, the Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency established a compost house.

The compost house collects organic waste from the Atas Curup market, a traditional market located in Curup Tengah subdistrict of Rejang Lebong, and processed them into compost, which is then used to fertilize plants along major roads

“Wastes being collected and processed into compost is organic waste from the market,” said Amran, head of Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency.

Based on the Rejang Lebong Environmental Agency data, [organic] waste collected to the workshop can reach up to three cubic meter per day, from which will produce at least one cubic meter of compost.

“The compost is used by the public landscaping office as fertilizer for flowers and plants on major roads and several areas in public parks,” he said.

In addition to the compost house, the Rejang Lebong Environmental agency has started preparation to establish a waste bank in Tasik Malaya, North Curup subdistrict this year. Once it’s set up, the agency will hand over its management to a local community.

“We will create the community-based group, they will run the waste bank, of course, our officials will assist and conduct training on waste bank,” he said.

Tedi Riski, head of the Indonesian Conservation Cadre Communication Forum of Rejang Lebong chapter said that the compost house is sufficiently effective to reduce waste volume in the Atas Curup market.

However, Riski added that the area of collection needs to be expanded as organic waste increases when prices (of vegetables) dive.

“It is effective when organic waste is processed into compost to reduce waste volume, however [they] need to expand the area, especially in Selupu Rejang subdistrict, the center of vegetable production, because we have found several ocassions where vegetables are thrown into the river during low price season,” he said on Thursday (1/11).


Customary sanction for littering

Waste issues are also of concern for the Rejang Lebong Customary Council, a committee that oversees customary regulation in the district in accordance with Regulation no. 2 Year 2007 on the Enforcement of Customs and Ceremonies Law. A council is established in every dubdistricts, including Rejang Lebong.

Batu Galing of Central Curup subdistrict is the first to implement customary law on littering.

Akhir Ramdan, one of the members of Batu Galing Customary Council, said that they implemented the regulation since January 2018, following floodings during rainy season that resulted from waste-clogged drainage.

“In Rejang Customary Law there is a term called Cepolo Tangan, which means people with ignorant hands or rude hands, [so] littering is included [in the law],” said Ramdan.

The Rejang Lebong customary law stipulates that those proven to have ‘ignornat hands’ will be liable for a sanction between one to six ria [one ria equals to two cans of rice or 30 kilograms of rice]. If the perpetrator is not able not pay with rice, then he or she shall pay with money equivalent to the price of rice.

Ramdan claims, following the implementation of the customary law, the council rarely finds waste piling up on locations that have seen the warning boards put up by villagers.

“Since we implement [the customary law], there are no longer pilling wastes around locations where signs were put up,” he said. “During rainy season, we no longer deal with floodings.”

Ramdan added that they have no longer dealt with ignorant hands.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Junaidi, a villager of Batu Galing, said that he has no objection against the customary law implementation.

“I’ve felt the impact of the law. When it’s raining, we don’t see puddles because wastes no longer clog drainages. There is no more waste piling on the streets. I agree with implementing this customary law because we ourselves, have no idea who dumps waste around this area,” Junaidi said. EKUATORIAL.


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