BUKIT MERTAJAM: Having been upgraded to city status on Sept 16, Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP) is now making its way towards becoming a low carbon city by 2022.
New mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said that the council was also working towards making Seberang Prai a carbon neutral city by 2030.
“A low carbon city is a city that is able to cater to its basic development without compromising the needs of the residents and at the same time able to keep the release of greenhouses gases under the global average.
“MBSP is setting a carbon emission reduction target from 8.0 tonnes CO2e per capita to 4.65 tonnes CO2e per capita by 2022. We are also striving towards becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview recently.
The city council has adopted five strategies in order to achieve the target, namely low emission transportation; low emission buildings; low emission infrastructure; sustainable production and consumption; and greenery and sequestrations.
In addition to that, Rozali said, any commercial complex that is and exceeding 5,000m² in size would be required to obtain at least 15% of its energy requirement from renewable sources.
“The recycling rate will also be increased to 70% while the per capita waste generation is to be reduced by 50% by 2022. The city council is also aiming for 100,000 trees to be planted by 2022 with 10,000 trees planted a year,” he said.
Tree planting, he said, was vital in balancing out carbon emission through oxygen production.
As of Sept 7, 2018, a total of 255,315 trees have been planted across Seberang Prai.
To achieve its green city goals, MBSP came up with the Seberang Prai Strategic Plan Direction where 52 main services that would be implemented within three months upon achieving city status.
Rozali said there were four main components to the plan: the generation of a competitive economy, low carbon city, smart city and a people-centric administration system.
“Some of the steps that MBSP will take towards generating a competitive economy are promoting the guideline for food trucks and service trucks to assist the B40 group in not only getting jobs but becoming operators themselves; the guidelines for periodic license and the guidelines for temporary permits for no-risk businesses so as to reduce the cost of business and subsequently drive the economy of Seberang Prai,” he said.
MBSP would also be organising an international “city to city” programme to share and learn the best practices in restoring the identity of old cities with the aim of preserving local identity and heritage values, in addition to providing the public with a pleasing and organised environment.
To turn Seberang Prai into a smart city, Rozali said that MBSP would be establishing an Industry 4.0 Committee comprising civil society, council members and officers from the government and private sectors.
“The committee will discuss policies regarding Industry 4.0 and its implementation methods by utilising AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (the internet of things), Big Data and wireless communication. The approach that we take in doing this must be people-centric,” he said.
Fulfilling the criteria needed
Rozali said that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s decision on May 8 to approve the upgrade of MPSP to MBSP was a proud moment for the Penang government as well as the people of Seberang Prai.
“MPSP did this by achieving the main criterion stipulated by the ministry to allow a municipality to be upgraded to city status,” he said.
He added that these were having a population density of one million and having a financial position that was not only excellent but sustainable as well.
“MPSP has obtained the Clean Bill Certification for its (2018) financial statement by the Accountant General Department for 17 years in a row since 2001.
“The city council was also awarded the Financial Management Five Star Rating Excellence Award Based on Accountability Index in 2018,” he said.
Other criteria that allowed MPSP to be awarded the city status was that it was also recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records as the first Local Authority (PBT) to obtain six certifications in Quality Management System in July and the first organisation in Malaysia to receive the ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management System certification.
“The other certifications include the Quality Management System ISO 9001:2008, the Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2004, the Quality Environment Management System (5S) and the Information Security Management System. On the international front, MPSP is a member of Citynet, has a smart partnership with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the International Council For Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI),” he said.
Illegal dumping biggest challenge
One of the biggest challenges the council has had to face in its bid to achieve city status was the illegal dumping of waste.
“Illegal garbage disposal is a huge challenge for us because Seberang Prai is the largest city in Malaysia with an area spanning 738km². The problem of illegal dumping of waste is made harder by the presence of tens of plastic-filled foreign containers.
“However, MPSP has employed a number of methods to tackle the problem and eventually managed to reduce the number of cases from 118 in 2014 to 72 in 2015. In 2017 the cases were reduced to 60 and in 2018, 48 cases,” he revealed.
In the aspect of hygiene and cleanliness, MPSP has an integrated solid waste management system that is recognised by major cities across the world. Seberang Prai has a Level IV landfill spanning 128.2ha in size to hold the waste generated for 30 years to come.
“Seberang Prai has a transfer station facility and a house-to-house waste collection service once every two days, daily collection at communal bins as well as scheduled grass-cutting and drain-cleaning.
“Despite that, the presence of a high number of immigrants and the irresponsible attitude of some of the locals who dispose of garbage indiscriminately have caused certain areas to become dirty. MPSP has organised various programmes to tackle this, including having community engagement with factory operators,” he said.
Penang is currently the only state in Malaysia with all its Local Authorities (PBTs) elevated to city council status.
“Penang is located within the IMT-GT (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Growth Triangle) and the North Corridor Economic Region (NCER) which helps it achieve better economic growth and living standards,” said Rozali.
The Penang state government submitted its application to upgrade the status of the Seberang Prai Municipal Council to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in December 2018 and received approval for the upgrade on May 8 the following year.
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