KUALA TERENGGANU: The beauty of Terengganu’s coast, stretching 244 kilometres, which is set against the backdrop of the islands in the South China Sea, is indeed mesmerising.
However, the enchanting view of the blue ocean is sometimes marred by litter on the beach, because of irresponsible individuals who simply throw their rubbish.
Disappointed with the situation, about 100 members of a group known as “Geng Plastic Ija” (GPI), or ‘Green Plastic Gang’, who include professionals, get together every weekend to collect the rubbish and clean the beach area.
GPI chairman Zulkefli Sarji said the group was formed in 2017 and since then, it is a routine for the members to don their green T-shirt, and with green plastic bags in hand, to walk along the beach every weekend to clear the area of any litter.
“In the beginning, it was just me and my wife, Normazita Ali, 45, as we always spent the afternoon walking on the beach. It is on seeing the so much litter left by visitors and picnickers, which is an eye-sore, that made us collect them while we take our evening stroll, and it then became a routine.
“After that, friends joined us and when they posted our activity on social media, more individuals joined and this led to the setting up of GPI,” said the 52-year-old engineer with an oil and gas company when met by Bernama at a programme to clean Pantai Pandak in Chendering, here.
He said during the early stage, GPI focused on the beaches in Kemaman and Dungun, as most of the members are from the two districts.
However, in 2019, when more people, including from Kuala Terengganu, joined GPI, we expand our activities to the coastal areas in Kuala Terengganu, Marang, Setiu and Besut, he added.
Apart from fulfilling their “fardhu kifayah” responsibility as Muslims, Zulkefli said the GPI members hoped that their action would be emulated by others in helping to maintain the cleanliness of the beaches in their area.
“The beach can provide income. When the beach is beautiful and clean, many people, including from outside of Terengganu, will come to visit. Indirectly, it can improve the economy of the locals because they can do business selling food and so on,” he said.
Zulkifli said GPI also involved the participation of students, including from tahfiz centres and schools, in an effort to educate the young people to be more responsible for the cleanliness of their environment.
Meanwhile, a GPI representative from Kuala Terengganu, Dr Mohd Arif Hafizi, 31, said in one of the programmes organised by the group at Pantai Kemasik in Kemaman in August last year, its members managed to collect 389 kilogrammes of rubbish in just a few hours.
Normally, 70 to 80 per cent of the rubbish found on the beaches are flotsam, as well as fishing nets and glass bottles, especially during the monsoon season, with the remaining rubbish are leftover food, tissue papers and plastic bags left behind by visitors and picnickers, he added.
“Plastic rubbish is the most worrying because it is difficult to decompose and can threaten marine life if carried by the waves to the middle of the sea,“ said the doctor at Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital here.
Dr Mohd Arif, whose wife, Dr Fatin Nurliyana Mohd Zain, 28, also joined in the cleaning programme, said rubbish such as plastic bottles and papers that they collect would be sent to the recycling centres.
One of the young participants, Aufa Irdina Najmi Mohd Nazri, 12, from Kemaman, said she would wake up as early as 5am on weekends to follow her mother, Shamni Mohamad, 45, and father, Mohd Nazri Abdullah, 47, to collect rubbish on the beach.
“If the cleaning programme is on a beach far from Kemaman, such as Kuala Terengganu, my siblings and I will have to get up earlier.
“It is tiring, but I am happy because after the beach is cleaned, we can play in a beautiful and clean environment, “ said the girl, who was with her siblings, nine-year-old brother Mohd Dafiq Dayan Najmi and six-year-old sister Aissa Balqish Najmi. -Bernama