By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Some claim that the term “collateral damage” originated as a euphemism during the Vietnam War. It refers to the killing of non-combatants or civilians by friendly fire. It became more pronounced during the Second Iraq War (circa 2003) when aerial bombings by American jet fighters caused considerable loss of Iraqi lives and properties despite the use of “smart” bombs.
The collateral damage I refer to here is less deadly than the blight brought about by the coalition forces in Iraq. It does not involve bombs or weapons of mass destruction which could annihilate a settlement at a push of a button. It has much to do with how Ipoh City Council or MBI manages its affairs. Due to an oversight, deliberate or otherwise, untold hardship has befallen a group of Ipohites for no apparent reason other than being on the receiving end.
The residents of Ipoh Garden South, numbering some 500 in all and living in houses fronting the newly developed de Garden across Kinta City, are a grieving lot. The inconvenience they face will drive anyone up the wall. Since the completion of this upscale shopping mall early this year, life has become a constant nightmare for them. Indiscriminate parking by those patronising the many restaurants, fast-food and entertainment outlets at de Garden has turned their lives upside down, literally.
“It’s worse during weekends,” said Bernard Wong, a member of the resident-action committee. “Some have the audacity to park their cars in front of our gates.” The residents got the ball rolling with a signature campaign and made their dissatisfaction known to the Mayor himself. “Why is there no enforcement?” asked one dejected resident. “If they could do so effectively along roads near the race course during race days, why can’t they do the same here?”
The council’s inaction is not the only icing on the cake. “We’ve even called the traffic police but to no avail,” said Bernard. He fears for the worse, as the situation can turn ugly at times. “There was one nasty incident recently when two motorists, refusing to budge, got out of their cars and fought.”
The worse culprits are those who double-park, thus rendering the narrow residential roads, especially Jalan Wu Lean Teh, impassable. “I got locked out a few times,” said Loke, another member of the resident committee. “We’re at the mercy of these inconsiderate motorists,” he bemoaned. “They damaged our properties too.”
The manifestation of these problems shows one glaring deficiency – poor planning by MBI. Why was approval given for the construction of de Garden without due thought for parking and vehicular movement? This little oversight is the root cause of the problems affecting the residents of Ipoh Garden South. The monetary cost to the council is considerable. Imagine the revenue lost in terms of parking fees and fines. “It amounts to some RM16,000 based on 400 cars parked illegally on weekends,” said Bernard. The council’s lack of interest in doing the needful prompted some to question the Mayor’s position.
The residents demand that MBI put up signage along the roads deterring motorists from parking and double parking. They too request that a wall be erected to separate de Garden from their neighbourhood. Closing off Jalan Wu Lean Teh to motorists is one other option to consider.
“We’ve been made to bear the council’s indifference far too long. It’s time it takes stock of its responsibility to rate-payers,” Bernard re-marked.
The reluctance on the part of the council to respond positively is puzzling indeed. Residents deserve to be heard.