MELAKA: Thousands of residents in Bukit Rambai here are crying foul over the stench and pollution at Sungai Ayer Salak due to oily sludge.
The pungent smell over the past 15 hours has upset residents living along a12-kilometre stretch of the river.
Unable to bear the foul smell, many have complained to the authorities to take immediate action to clean the river.
"I woke up at 5am to go to the mosque for Subuh prayer when I noticed the bad smell.
"I went to check the river nearby and saw thick oil slick covering the surface of the river," said retiree Amran Husain, 51, from Kampung Bukit Datuk.
Amran, whose village is located some 50 metres from the river, said he believed the thick oil was industrial effluents from nearby factories.
"This is the worst river pollution in the 20 years I have been living here. One of my neighbours also had an asthma attack after inhaling the contaminated air," he said when met today.
A check by the New Straits Times found thick black-coloured oily sludge with tar odour emanating from the river. Several dead fishes were also seen floating.
Another resident from Taman Rambai Jaya, Amy Samad, 43, who lives three kilometre from the river, said this was the worse pollution he had ever experienced.
He used a reed to scoop the oily sludge from the river to show reporters how thick it was.
"The smell was very strong at 7am this morning. It is still strong now but not as bad," he said, adding that the smell caused him to suffer breathing difficulties.
He said residents in the village used to jog along the river every morning and evening, but were no longer doing so due to the pollution.
They were also unable to go fishing as the water was covered with thick oil and the smell was unbearable.
Amy called on the authorities to take immediate action to resolve the issue as it was affecting some 5,000 residents from three housing areas and two villages - Taman Rambai Utama, Taman Rambai Jaya, Taman Tanjung Minyak, Kg Bukit Datuk A and Kg Kemboja.
Attempts to reach State Department of Environment director Shafe'ee Yasin proved futile.