The ‘City that Tin Built’ will soon be known as “cattle city” if no action is taken soon by the relevant authorities. Although it was accorded city status 22 years ago, cows and buffaloes still roam freely on its roads, commercial areas and housing estates. Judging from the amount of complaints and police reports lodged by residents about stray cattle, the situation is becoming serious…
Stray cattle are sighted daily in various parts of the city, particularly in the Lahat, Menglembu, Silibin, Jelapang, and in the Jalan Kuala Kangsar areas. These stray cattle are not just a nuisance, but also a threat as they have been known to attack and gore people while grazing in parks, children’s playgrounds, commercial and residential areas.
They also obstruct traffic, destroy plants and rummage in dust-bins in the housing estates, leaving trails of dung and urine with their accompanying foul smells in front of houses and along roads.
Motorists in particular, are exposed to danger on the roads, especially at night. Early last month, the problem culminated in a fatal road accident. A van driver was killed when his vehicle knocked down two buffaloes at 3.45 a.m. near Falim. The buffaloes were also killed. According to a police statement the fatal accident occurred when the buffaloes suddenly crossed into the path of the van.
There have been other reports of accidents caused by stray cattle including cases where motorists were trying to avoid running over cow dung on the roads. Such accidents are unheard of in a progressive city, but is Ipoh a progressive city?
State Government Directive No Longer Effective?
Over two decades ago, the state government had directed that no cattle or goat rearing be allowed within the city centre. Judging from the existing stray cattle problem, this directive appears to be no longer effective, or the cattle farmers have not been relocated.
Owners of herds would release their animals at night to avoid detection by the city council, which had set up a unit to round up stray cattle in 1987. Under the city’s by-law on stray animals, owners could be fined not more than RM250 for each stray or if the offence was committed repeatedly, the animal could be sent to the abattoir for slaughter.
No Solution in Sight
Frustrated by the frequency of cattle marauders, residents of affected housing estates have even resorted to setting off fire-crackers to chase them away from damaging fruit and flower plants but to no avail.
As there is currently no lasting solution in sight, the city council should at least ensure that herd owners not let their buffaloes and cows roam freely (or, perhaps it may be a good idea to put reflectors on the cows and buffaloes to alert motorists along dark stretches of roads at night).
Long List of Complaints
Our reporter, A. Jeyaraj, who carried out an investigation of the stray cattle problem in the city, said he was shown a long list of complaints received by the city council. Additionally, online complaints are common. The council’s officer said that every complaint received is recorded and a copy is sent to the operations section for action. When action has been taken it is recorded in the registry.
“I had the opportunity to speak to a few people in Menglembu, Falim, Taman Mas and the surrounding areas as well as Kuala Kangsar Road, where the situation is really bad,” added Jeyaraj. “Personally, I see cattle in the following areas which I travel regularly; Maxwell Road, First Garden, Jalan Sungai Pari, Sungai Pari bund, Merdeka Garden, Jalan Lang, Lim Garden and Lorong Pari.”
One of the worst affected areas is Taman Mas which is known as “Buffalo Territory”. Residents say that buffaloes sleep on the roads at night and their colour blends well with that of the road and it is difficult to see them in the dark.
The stretch of Sungai Pari bund between the bridges in Silibin Road and Jalan Merdeka is littered with cow dung and contaminated with cow urine. Residents living near the river bank used to jog/walk on the bund, but due to the mess very few people use the bund nowadays.
Yip Ah Choo of Lim Garden said that he had been complaining since 2006 and for a few days after each complaint the cows do not come. A couple of years ago he was threatened by a cowherd who claimed that he was working in the city council and Yip made a police report.
Retiree N. Selvarajah of Pari Garden described the cattle problem as a new phenomenon. He had not experienced this in the past; the cowherds at the time brought their cows in the evening to graze and ensured that they did not stray near the houses. Nowadays, the cows come after 2.00 a.m. and eat up everything. The sound of barking dogs wakes every one up in the vicinity.
Lost Faith with City Council
Hamid Lee Abdullah of Taman Samarak said the residents have lost faith in the city council and have not bothered to complain. M. Bala of Merdeka Garden said that he had written a few times to the Mayor about the menace of stray cattle in his housing estate and has not received any reply.
Others are afraid to talk about it because the cowherds have connections with thugs. They accused the city council of favouring the cattle owners and the enforcement officers of closing one eye to the problem.
However, city council’s enforcement officer Ahmad Zaiyadi bin Sudin said that his department has particulars of the estimated 30 illegal cattle owners and the area where each of the herd roam. According to him the cattle travel between five and 20 km in search of food. His department can only catch cows that are out of the pen and in the open.
The enforcement team patrols different parts of the city based on the complaints received. The cattle caught are locked up in the pound in Buntong. He added that catching cows is not an easy task as they have to chase the cattle and, in the process, to ensure no one gets hurt or property damaged. He said a few of his staff were badly injured in the process of catching cattle.
In mitigation, owners of the illegal cattle farms claimed that they had been there long before Ipoh became a city and its boundary expanded. Rearing cattle is their livelihood and they have nowhere to be relocated.
Therefore, directing them not to release their cattle will not solve the problem as there is no alternative grazing ground. The city council and the state government need to look into relocating them outside the city if the problem is to be overcome.