By A. Jeyaraj
During the recent State Legislative Assembly Sitting, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir explained that the Pemukiman Programme is a meet-the-people session to listen to their problems and find solutions. He listed all the rural areas where the programme is being conducted. Instead of confining to the rural areas, our MB must also listen to problems of urban dwellers.
I am highlighting a few of the never-ending problems faced by residents in Kampung Manjoi, Pari Garden and surrounding housing estates which are adjacent to Sungai Pari. Residents in other housing estates may have problems of a different nature.
After massive flooding in 2012, we have not had heavy rain until December 22, 2016 when the water in Sungai Pari reached an exceptionally high level after two hours of rain. A number of houses were flooded. Another major flooding occurred on the night of March 28 this year and many people were caught unawares. In spite of raising the height of the river bund, garbage overflowed onto the road at Jalan Raja Bridge. In the middle of the night residents had to take their cars to high ground. I wonder why there was no media coverage of this; maybe the people living here do not matter?
Recently, after a heavy rain, water in Sungai Pari was flowing above the banks. My neighbour and I walked along the river bund to have a look. We noticed that the river water was back flowing from three of the sumps downstream of Jalan Raja Bridge. In fact, water was gushing out from the sump which was closest to the bridge. If there is constant erosion and the bund gives way, there is going to be a big disaster.
Luckily the vast vacant land between Lorong Pari and the river bund with a crater in the centre serves as a big natural retention pond and is also breeding ground for mosquitos. Excess water flows into this pond. If houses are built on this land, definitely the houses nearby will get flooded whenever there is heavy rain because the water has no way to dissipate.
After the 2012 disaster, the usual statements and explanations were issued and it was assured that flood mitigation work would be carried out. The only projects completed are the construction of the retention pond in Merdeka Garden and upgrading of the bridge along Jalan Menteri in Kampung Manjoi. Flooding is a recurring problem and people living along the river live in fear of impending flooding.
There used to be a flood warning siren when the water reaches danger level. There is no more siren; I am told it has been stolen.
In ‘boleh-land’, when flooding occurs in certain places, it is attributed to the government and in other places it is due to the Almighty. In this case who is responsible?
I am staying in Pari Garden which is about two kilometres from the MB’s office and am sharing my house with mosquitoes. About a couple of years ago when dengue was at its peak, five members of my family including my wife were stricken. At my request, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, Chairman State Health Committee came to my place with doctors from the State Health Department. Many reporters came and were scratching themselves and applying anti-mosquito cream and wanted to leave the place quickly. After the visit I was told that the mosquitoes breeding in the pond in front of the houses were not Aedes and so we need not worry about dengue. Case closed, but the mosquito problem is not solved.
Cows and buffaloes are grazing in the land next to the river bunds of Sungai Pari. The place smells of dung and urine. This is not healthy. During the current rainy season the water which does not flow away is contaminated and may cause diseases.
During the fifties I was living in Lahat Lane near Kinta River. We were rearing cows, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and my pet dog Biro. Back then there was no flooding, no mosquitos and no dung smell. We were enjoying a quality life. Why has the quality of life deteriorated?
Our frequent complaints have fallen onto deaf ears and our caring MB must visit this place and find a permanent solution. He must listen to senior citizens and get their advice on how we can revive the lost quality of life.