ALTHOUGH many hands make light work, coordinating a large scale cleanup can still be challenging.
Rotary Club of Langkawi, however, may well have established an organisational model worth emulating.
The club has only 17 members, but it deployed over 1,200 volunteers, 100 naval officers and about 200 support personnel to clean up the rubbish in Langkawi Kilim Karst Geoforest Park on Saturday.
Though the park is almost 100sq km of sea, limestone islands, mangrove swamps and winding rivers, the cleanup had successfully rid the park of 4.5 tonnes of flotsam and jetsam with a volume of about 20 cubic metres.
And the cleanup process took only about three hours.
“It is a matter of division of numbers and delegation,” smiled club president Kapt Dr Gerard Lawrence, who is a medical officer of Langkawi Naval Region III.
A hundred motor boats carrying 10 volunteers each had fanned out into the park’s winding rivers, mangrove swamps and little islands.
More motor boats were deployed to visit the cleanup boats in action to take the bagfuls of rubbish they collected.
The linchpins of the organisational success had been the naval officers, who were made cleanup boat captains, said Kapt Dr Lawrence.
The naval officers arrived at about 8am.
“Our secretariat only registered and briefed the boat captains. They were also put in charge of the meals, goodie bags and instructions for the volunteers,” said Langkawi Rotary Club public relations director Dr Sandra Raman.
The volunteers were a motley crew from the local residents and schoolchildren, hotel guests, Langkawi Police Academy, Royal Malaysian Navy, Langkawi Development Authority, 21 Rotary Clubs from Rotary International District 3300 and several other public and private bodies on the archipelago.
“There were too many volunteers to register and assign, so when they arrived, they freely chose a boat captain who were each holding up a placard showing their boat number,” Dr Sandra said.
The boat captains then took down the volunteers’ details and briefed them the task and safety instructions before handing them their breakfast meals.
At 9am, the cleanup boats took off to their designated areas and by noon, they brought back an immense pile of rubbish in black bags that filled three lorries.
The rubbish collected comprised of almost entirely plastic containers and broken polystyrene with tangles of ship ropes and fish nets.
This is the second year Langkawi Rotary Club held the cleanup and volunteers had collected about six tonnes last year.
“Langkawi is listed as a global geopark under Unesco. It is the only one in Malaysia and all the residents are proud of it,” said Langkawi Rotary Club president elect (2015/2016) David Bradley, who has been residing in the archipelago for three years.
Bradley, who is a mariner, said he had seen vast fields of floating rubbish in the middle of the sea in many parts of the world and Langkawi was equally at risk of having tonnes of rubbish washed into its geoparks.
He said: “A project like this has long-legs and it will help residents develop an awareness on the need for the island to be clean so that it will continue to enjoy the benefits of eco-tourism.”
The cleanup was launched by Naval Region III commander First Admiral Rosli Yoob. Also present was Rotary Club district 3300 governor Siti Subaidah.