Transforming a slum in Kota Damansara
Writer: Selangor Times Team
Published: Fri, 22 Mar 2013
PETALING JAYA: Rampant vandalism and crime are slowly turning the People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats in Section 8, Kota Damansara into a slum.
Children from the flats repainting a ground floor unit at Block B to
help turn it into a study room.
Home to some 900 low-income families, a permanent stink hovers around the four blocks of 180-storey flats due to leaking sewage and uncollected garbage.
Nobody lives beyond the 14th floor.
The top-most floors are littered with trash and are potential criminal hideouts.
Residents fear leaving their home after dark as dodgy figures linger around the corridors where the lights are no longer functioning.
Johari Nander (pic) , the flats’ Residents’ Association (RA) chief, faces an uphill task in convincing the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and its residents to invest in the place.
Last year, MBPJ’s appointed maintenance company fixed the faulty lifts but now only one in each block remains in working condition.
PJ mayor Datin Paduka Alina Ahmad said her officers had found a refrigerator on top of one of the lifts.
“We have already spent RM3 million to repair the lifts last year. We’ve to take care of the entire city. We cannot (afford to) always pump money into this area only,” she told Selangor Times yesterday.
The residents must play their part to ensure the infrastructure are well taken care of, she said.
“We do have a problem with vandalism,” Johari conceded.
But the city council should at least maintain critical facilities such as fire safety equipment and replace the stolen stair railings.
“All the fire hydrants at the four blocks have been vandalised. In the event of a fire, we’re doomed,” said the community leader.
Last year, a resident at Block A fell from the stairs with the missing railing.
“When the infrastructure breaks down, the inhabitants will start to lose confidence in the RA.
“Once the RA loses public confidence, the residents won’t care about their advice to take care of the facilities,” remarked Kota Damansara assemblyperson Dr Nasir Hashim.
He thinks MBPJ should work with the RA to restore confidence in the flats dwellers.
Johari is inviting the local council, NGOs and volunteers to come in and assist the RA to revive the place and inculcate civil awareness among the inhabitants.
Friends of Kota Damansara (FOKD) and several volunteers visited the flats last Saturday to repaint a ground floor unit at Block B and transform it into a study area, which will provide tuition classes and equipped with WiFi and a library.
“We’ll also install lights around the study area so that the residents feel safe,” said FOKD chairperson Jeffrey Phang.
He said the funds were raised from running a carnival last year.
Phang also invited a few organic farmers to help the RA set up community gardens around the flats.
About 20 enthusiastic children from the flats helped to paint the walls and plant flowers and vegetables at the gardens.
“If we can make this place feel more like home, the residents are more likely to take care of it,” said Phang.
Alina told Selangor Times the city council is considering the option for MBPJ to manage the flats’ maintenance directly instead of outsourcing it to a private company.
Another option on the table is to outsource the maintenance to Selangor Housing and Property Board, which is doing a good job of maintaining the PPR flats in Hicom, Shah Alam.
However, to transform the community’s attitude and eradicate vandalism would take more than a change in the management structure.
In a letter to MBPJ, Phang urged the city council to divert more budget to training and events that would strengthen the community spirit among residents here.
“The budget for MBPJ is all based on infrastructure needs. With more responsible citizens, there will be less vandalism and less maintenance budget needed,” he added.