By Jerry Francis
Nearly 600 pedestrians were killed in road accidents annually for the last three years in the country, most of them children and senior citizens. According to the federal police, this figure accounts for 10 per cent of the traffic accident fatalities.
Over 70 per cent of these pedestrian casualties happened because people did not use the facilities provided or crossed roads at wrong places. Pedestrians are therefore advised by the police to always use pedestrian bridges, pathways and crossings.
But, what have the police done towards ensuring there are sufficient pedestrian pathways and crossings in the towns and cities in the country. The police can make a difference as they sit on most of the traffic advisory committees in the local authorities.
Let us examine our city, Ipoh, which has a high population of senior citizens. Is it ‘pedestrian friendly’? Personally, I do not think so.
Of course, there are pedestrian bridges and crossings in the city centre. The pedestrian bridges are too steep for senior citizens and people with disabilities to climb up and down, while the pavements at the crossings and along the streets are without ramps to facilitate elderly and wheelchair-bound persons to get onto the pavements. While in many places, there are no pathways and pavements.
And, despite the existence of by-laws in the city forbidding obstructions along pavements and five-foot ways, they are rampant. Often pedestrians need to get down from the pavements and five-foot ways onto the roads in busy streets because they are obstructed by some structure or goods, thus risking life and limb.
Pavements are also poorly maintained. There are gaping holes caused by loose and missing interlocking bricks that can cause pedestrians to trip over and injure themselves.
Making matters worse, there are even damaged manhole covers on the pavements. A few of these corroded metal covers are located along the busy Jalan Dato Onn Jaafar.
It will be only a matter of time before a pedestrian steps on one of them and falls into the manhole (see picture). Please, city council, look into these hazards to pedestrians immediately.
Much as I dislike criticizing the authorities, I also dislike seeing negligence on the part of the authorities. Is the city council not liable should a pedestrian get hurt due to its negligence?
The Mayor and city councilors, should in one of their ‘turun padang’, take a walk around the city centre and see for themselves whether our city can be considered ‘pedestrian friendly’.
If I may suggest, since the Kinta River bisects the commercial sectors of the Old Town and New Town of the city, the city council could perhaps consider constructing covered pedestrian walkways at the bridges along Jalan Sultan Idris Shah and Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah for protection from rain and sun. It will encourage more people to walk between the two sectors.