Johor fishermen, eatery owners hit hard by pollution fears
JOHOR BARU : Fishermen in Johor's Pasir Gudang district, where dozens of people fell sick due to toxic fumes in the past week, want the state government to come out with an assurance that all seafood products there are safe.
One of them, Mr Erman Zainal, 45, said business had been declining since the Sungai Kim Kim river pollution incident in March.
He hoped the government would step in to help them.
A recent visit by The Star to Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru fishermen's market found the usually busy place quiet and devoid of customers, although fresh fish was on display.
Johor Fishermen's Association chairman Mohamad Dolmat said the state has enough experts who can determine whether the marine life in Pasir Gudang is safe for consumption or not.
He said: "Although it is only air pollution, the public's perception is that it covers all, due to the previous Sungai Kim Kim incident."
More than 100 students were affected last week and early this week by the noxious fumes that caused vomiting and breathing difficulties.
All educational institutions have been ordered to be closed since the latest incident, which appeared to be similar to the Sungai Kim Kim cases.
South Johor Fishermen's Association chairman Azli Mohamad Aziz said the repeat pollution in Pasir Gudang has hampered the area's fish market recovery process.
"Before Sungai Kim Kim, our fishermen could make about RM1,000 (S$330) a month, but after the incident, our income has become unstable, with our overall market performance having dropped about 40 per cent."
Many restaurant owners are concerned that the second wave of pollution will badly affect their business.
Ms Rorusani Ngah, who operates a food stall not far from Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar, in the Taman Mawar area where cases were first reported last Thursday, said that since the pollution happened, her business has suffered.
"People are afraid to come, fearing that they may get sick from breathing the air here or get food poisoning," she said. - THE STAR