Rubbish Control: Bali traditional village chief offers IDR1.5 million to residents catching litterers

Trash washed up on Bali’s Kuta beach in February 2016. Reuters/Antara News Agency

A traditional village leader in Denpasar, Bali is bringing rubbish control to the people, offering local residents a IDR1.5 million (US$105) reward to those who can catch litterers in the act.

Trash control is no joke in Bali, where the island had to declare a “garbage emergency” along a stretch of the southern coast last year. Rubbish levels are especially extreme in the wet season, when literal tons of garbage, much of it washed out from rivers inland, hits the beach.

Kertapura Village Chief, I Nengah Muliasa, 59, says he’s needed to get creative to put a stop to improper trash disposal and so, on Nov. 20, he launched this “reward program”.

This isn’t the first time Balinese leaders have thought of alternative ways to keep their villages clean. One village in Tabanan set a strict fine of IDR5 million (US$350) for litterers, last year.

Muliasa has been involved in the Kertapura village leadership in some way or another for the past 11 years and says over this time that his biggest frustration is residents littering.

“I had my first finding in 2011. I posted an announcement that it was forbidden to throw trash, violators would be fined. People still didn’t care. Finally, I went around monitoring the trash, in front of residents, in sewers,” Muliasa told Detik on Thursday.

“I monitored the trash, until finally it was put into rubbish bins. If trash was thrown down (into the sewer), I called the person out. If they objected, I would straighten it out, make an understanding.”

Muliasa says he didn’t mind taking such actions if it meant “residents would then throw trash in the proper place.”

However, even so, there’s still been garbage being dumped, so Muliasa has decided to outsource his litter-monitoring role and play off the competitive human spirit and make a contest: people who can catch those dumping trash carelessly will get prize money.

“I had a breakthrough for people who were throwing trash randomly. There were residents who found the culprit. I rewarded them IDR1.5 million from personal funds,” Muliasa said.

Besides, he would rather not have to play trash police during extreme hours, ,like from 4am to 5am or 1am, for instance.

“Better for my health, just to give money,” he said.

“Many people who want IDR1.5 million will automatically help me,” Muliasa added.

The Kertapura chief says he hopes his vision can go beyond just his village and penetrate into higher levels of government.

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