By Mariam Mokhtar

At one time, an Ipohite could rely on workers from the Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) to spruce up his residential area. Rubbish was cleared, grass in the parks was cut regularly, and trash was removed from the playground.

Ever since the work was privatised, readers of the Ipoh Echo (IE) complain that they are lucky to see the workers once every six months.

Grass in the parks is left unkempt and rubbish accumulates. Why is this happening? Does the MBI monitor the schedule and work performance of the contract workers?

Some people claim that their complaints to MBI are rarely addressed. Perhaps, the Ipoh mayor, could look into this problem.

One reader has the following suggestion, "This important task of keeping our residential areas relatively tidy should come under the purview of the councillor, who is in charge of the area.

"Actually,  most of us have no idea who our councillors are and how they serve the public. We pay our rates and we want something in return. We are proud of where we live. Will the MBI, or our councillors, play their role more effectively?”

On a more positive note, the article "Will The New Perak Administration Build More Parks After GE-14?" published on May 16, prompted one IE reader to contact this paper and write about the joy of strolling along the Kinta River.

She, and her group of friends, who are regular walkers, claim that the only accessible part of the path, which runs along both banks of the Kinta River, is between the Kinta Riverfront Hotel and the YMCA.

She said, "If the grass was cut and the place tidied up, we could go all the way to Kampung Gajah, and Tanjung Rambutan, in the other direction.

"Tourists would like this very much. They would enjoy the walk along the banks of the Kinta River, appreciate the beautiful, countryside and take in the surroundings.

"The only problem is that the river is dirty, with rubbish floating in it, and plastic bags trapped by floating tree branches.

"The other issue, which puts people off walking along the river, is security and unkempt areas."

She described the existence of artificial trees planted at regular intervals in between real trees, along the path, adjacent to the Riverfront Hotel.

"The artificial trees allegedly cost around RM2000 each, and although they are expensive, they more or less, blend in with the real trees. At night, when they are lit up, they are pretty and light the area so people feel safer, otherwise the place would be dark.

"Most of these artificial trees are situated near the Kinta Riverfront Hotel, and the rest are placed on the route towards the YMCA. They are already proving to be quite a hit with both tourists and locals."

She and her friends think that the authorities should try and improve the walk along the river bank, concentrating on one stretch at a time. She also wants them to do something about cleaning up the river.

She said, "Apart from making the place look pretty and safe, think of the health benefits to the people. People will take up walking, but only if they think they will not come to any danger."

Aware that Kampung Gajah is around 75km from Ipoh she said, "I recall a former Menteri Besar who hailed from there, and at one time, organised a canoe race from here to his village. As the river is quite shallow, so it may be difficult to have this water activity all the time."

One of this group's favourite route is the walk from the Kinta Riverfront Hotel to the YMCA and Gunung Ceroh, and back. They then head in the other direction to St Michael's school, near Wisma Taiko, and turn back at the bridge.

They claim that that one can go further in either direction, but they like this route and it takes them a comfortable 90 minutes, with stops to admire sights along the way.

She said, "There is a fallen tree trunk along one stretch of the path, which has lain there for many weeks. Perhaps, MBI should remove it, as it may fall and hurt someone who is foolish enough to walk under it."

Perhaps, people could phone the MBI office, to alert their workers to obstacles like this.

"On the bank opposite the Kinta Riverfront Hotel, there are some mysterious structures. They look like models of a tin sluice, and ancillary tin mining hardware, but all are covered with undergrowth," she added.

She recalls a tin mining museum, but is not sure what happened to it.

She said, "Perhaps, people stopped visiting the mining museum, as they preferred to walk in the well-lit areas."

So, is this part of the Palong Tin Museum? Can someone shed some light on this? Is the Perak Tourism office able to help? Why have the artefacts been abandoned? Wasn't this project started by the Kinta Riverfront Hotel, MBI and the Perak Water and Drainage Department?

Perhaps, this is one other mystery that needs to be resolved, by the Ipoh mayor.

Malaysians are only too aware of abandoned projects, which were started with lots of funding and fanfare. Few are maintained, and interest in them is not sustained, because the people running these projects lack imagination. In the end, they become eyesores, and a waste of time, money and resources.

Many issues were raised, and as a result, many promises made by Tourism Perak and the former MB, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, in the IE article "Revival of Kinta Riverfront Walk". Were the issues resolved?

The abandoned tin mining models tell another story.

Pull your socks up Perak Tourism and MBI!