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Shocking images of 'happy' river in Indonesia where you can't see water for the trash

NZ Herald - August 3, 2019

Workers and military personnel have been desperately trying to collect rubbish overflowing in a river in Indonesia.

Shocking images have emerged of the Bahagia river in Bekasi, West Java, which is full to the brim with plastic bottles, polystyrene takeaway containers and plastic bags. Not an inch of water can be seen in the polluted river Bahagia – which means 'happy'.

An army of residents, local office workers and military personnel have been trying to clear the river since 7.30am on Tuesday.

Many only had bamboo sticks but tried their best to help tackle the escalating problem and loaded rubbish trucks with bin bags full of plastic waste. It is estimated that there is a total of 400 tonnes of waste in the nearly 2km long river, to which officials have declared an "emergency response".

But the clean-up mission has been made more difficult by the 204 shacks – where residents live – on the river bank. It has meant officials can't easily use big machinery to clear the rubbish quickly.

Bahagia sub-district secretary Mawardi told local media: "This is an emergency response. The local environment agency is supporting us. There are 10 military personnel, five sub-district office representatives and ten police officers."

Mawardi said heavy equipment is set to be brought in via a dredge silt from the river in due course. Officials believe the waste likely washed downstream into the Bahagia river and got stuck in the Kali Busa, which has been dubbed "foam river" by locals.

The river's surface was covered in 1m-deep waste. As a result, residents were haunted by floods, mosquitos and illnesses.

"The lifted 50 tonnes of waste was directly transported to the Burangkeng landfill. We originally prepared 23 trucks but could only use seven of them as the heavy equipment couldn't reach all the waste in the river," the agency's head for hygiene, Dodi Agus Supriyanto, told kompas.com on Thursday.

Although most of the rubbish in the river is thought to be domestic, Indonesia has accepted imported waste from western countries who use the country as a dumping ground. However, officials in the capital of Jakarta, are clamping down on the trade.

Source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12255414