Rub­bish left by beach­go­ers and washed ashore de­stroys beaches

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

BOB makes a liv­ing by the beach. He rents out jet skis or floats made from tubes of lorry tyres and cars. Some days, he earns a cou­ple of hun­dred ring­git. But, there are days when he barely cov­ers his ba­sic es­sen­tials.

Week­ends are busy for Bob and his friends. Fam­i­lies would come for pic­nics, bring­ing their own food and drinks. The beach would be filled with peo­ple and this scene is re­peated dur­ing school hol­i­days.

Ac­cord­ing to a Ja­panese re­searcher, who is a fre­quent vis­i­tor to Malaysia, some of Malaysia’s beaches will be gone in a few years.

If this hap­pens, beach boys like Bob may soon have to earn a liv­ing dif­fer­ently. He may have to work as an Uber driver or a GrabCar op­er­a­tor.

If he has no other skill, he may have to work as a dish­washer or sell burg­ers or nasi lemak to get by.

Back to the Ja­panese re­searcher, he said: “Some of your beaches are threat­ened by ero­sion. This is a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non.

“A beach re­sort in Langkawi has to take ex­tra steps to stop the ero­sion. A re­sort in Tereng­ganu is also fac­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems. The waves can be very strong and eat the sand away fast.”

Beach re­sort op­er­a­tors have to fig­ure out how to pre­vent such ero­sion. Would a break­wa­ter help? Even if it can, it will be very ex­pen­sive.

But, the Ja­panese re­searcher is more con­cerned about the hard­en­ing of the sandy beach, caused by “heavy traf­fic”.

This, he said, might pre­vent big spend­ing tourists from com­ing to Malaysia.

I spoke to Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ko­moo from Universiti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia, who said beaches were the most dy­namic of Earth’s sur­faces.

Dy­namic here means changes in the beach sur­face area or size. Stony beaches may see ero­sion, while sandy beaches may ex­pe­ri­ence de­po­si­tion.

Cit­ing Langkawi as an ex­am­ple, he said most re­sorts in Pan­tai Ce­nang were built on a part of the beach re­ferred to as beach ridge. These are hard­ened por­tions of the beach­front. Plants and trees can be planted here.

The worry, ac­cord­ing to him and beach lovers, is the part of the beach that is hit by waves dur­ing high- and low-tides. Rub­bish left by beach-go­ers and washed ashore by waves de­stroys the beach.

Ibrahim said the beach had to be cleaned up to pre­vent it from be­ing de­stroyed. Ex­tra ef­forts must be done to keep the life­span of these beaches longer.

What peo­ple worry most is the way beaches are be­ing used by tour op­er­a­tors as a “high­way” to trans­port their jet skis, boats and sup­plies to their beach camp­site.

Many ve­hi­cles are driven on the beach ridges with their jet skis in tow, pass­ing by sun­bathing tourists or those just laz­ing around. This poses a dan­ger to hol­i­day­mak­ers.

Those re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing our beaches safe and pro­tected need to see for them­selves the grad­ual de­struc­tion that is tak­ing place.

Peo­ple like Bob de­pend on these beaches to make a liv­ing. Those who go to the beach want to ride on jet skis, swim and laze around. There def­i­nitely is a de­mand for such ser­vices.

But, al­low­ing mo­tor­bikes, cars, vans and other ve­hi­cles to use the beach to trans­port their equip­ment is a no-no.

Bob and friends of­fer a le­git­i­mate ser­vice, and their en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit should not be dis­cour­aged.

A win-win formula is needed to en­able vis­i­tors and en­trepreneurs to co-ex­ist. ah­ Twit­ter: aat@pahit­ma­nis The writer is the chair­man of Yayasan Salam Malaysia

Those re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing our beaches safe and pro­tected need to see for them­selves the grad­ual de­struc­tion that is tak­ing place.


A group of vol­un­teers col­lect­ing rub­bish at a beach in Kerteh.

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