Be more proactive in curbing open burning activities

National 2 minutes, 11 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE government should be taking a pro-active approach in curbing hazardous open burning activities in the sultanate, said a lecturer from Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Geography and Environmental Studies.

In an interview with _The Brunei Times _yesterday, Gabriel Yit Vui Yong said that the government needs to instil “civic-mindedness” among the general public.

“The government should encourage this sense of ‘mere consciousness’ among members of the public in regards to their roles to the community and how they should be responsible with their actions (open burning) and its impact on their neighbours and other people,” he said.

He said that the key is not only through educating the public in regards to the types of open burnings and its impacts to health and environment but also to instil in them ‘self-censorship and regulations’ in taking care of their own surrounding community.

“Members of the public should be entrusted with these responsibilities and self-management of their own community while the relevant authorities can supply proper support to them whenever appropriate,” added the academic expert.

It was previously reported that the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) took an advisory role in dealing with the nationwide open burning cases.

The department is said to monitor open burning activities through the complaints and information they received via their hotline, office number and email.

Once an open burning report is made by a member of the public, JASTRe officers will be dispatched to the scene to advise the open burning perpetrator against the act.

However, this approach is rather ‘reactive’ than pro-active said Gabriel, adding that advising and telling members of the public individually in such cases can be less effective.

Furthermore, he said that monitoring of public’s activities may be problematic in terms of the limited number of the department's personnel in comparison to the vast amount of areas they need to cover.

He further suggested that the Friday sermon is one of the ways in which the majority of the public can be reached out in regards to instilling awareness of open burning activities and its effects to community’s safety and health.

He added that another pro-active approach that the government can carry out is collaborating with local academic institutions and identifying “hot-spots” which are prone to forest fires to lessen the increasing bush and forest fires experienced in the country.

“Instead of reacting to any bush or forest fires that occur, the Fire and Rescue Department can get help of academic experts by focusing on areas which may be predisposed to fire and prevent them from happening,” said Gabriel.

The Brunei Times