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Published: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 11:10:07 AM

DBKL tears down automated street toilets due to high cost of maintenance

No longer functioning: Pasar Seni AST has also been closed due to maintenance.

No longer functioning: Pasar Seni AST has also been closed due to maintenance.

IT IS RM4.8mil down the toilet, literally. Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has demolished 12 of the Automatic Street Toilets (AST) built at a cost of RM400,000 each. Reason given was that they were “uneconomical to manage.”

While the local authority’s intention to build 20 ultra-modern public toilets in 2006 all over the capital city was good, the high cost of maintaining them was draining their coffers.

The misuse of these toilets, vandalism and even low usage have left DBKL with no choice but to tear these structures down and go back to basics with conventional toilets.

The remaining eight

A check by StarMetro on the eight remaining toilets last week revealed that only one was fit to be used, two in bad condition and five others closed.

The AST near Cahaya Suria was the only one that was clean, with all the facilities including the flush and sink tap that use sensor trigger, in working condition. It was also the only toilet with hand soap and tissues available.

The ASTs located in Jalan Ara Kiri and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa (near shops) are filthy and in bad condition. The air-conditioning unit and flush sensor system are non-functioning in both toilets, resulting in a stench. The diaper-changing station is also unsafe, with loose straps.

Most of the coin slots are not working and the automatic doors can be pushed open anytime, even beyond permitted hours.

Cahaya Suria AST remains to be well maintained with all toiletries functioning well
The only nice one: Cahaya Suria AST is well maintained with all facilities functioning.  -Photos by AZLINA

On top of it all, the lights do not work, rendering it unusable after dark. In addition, some doors cannot be locked from the inside.

One of the worst ASTs is in Jalan Ara Kiri, Bangsar. From the outside, it looks like it has not been cleaned in a long time; There are bird droppings, dirt and grime stuck on its exterior.

As I approached one of the cubicles and tried to put in a coin in the coin slot, a DBKL staff seated in the small office in between the two cubicles asked me to use the other one instead because the one I wanted to use had no water supply.

The coin slot for the unit she pointed me to, worked and the door open promptly, however the toilet bowl was filled with urine stain and rubbish. The only water source is from the sink tap. The stench was unbearable.

As for the AST near the shops at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, the DBKL staff stationed there manually collected 20sen per person before allowing us to use the facility. He said the coin slots did not work and then offered to help push the door open.

The inside was not much different. Although there was no bad smell and no rubbish, the urine stain and disgusting condition was enough to put a person off.

The staff who declined to be named said maintenance had been poor for a very long time and the other AST located near the stage in the vicinity was closed a few weeks back. He appeared more concerned on the future of his job than anything else.

What is AST?

Each AST has two unisex cubicles measuring 2.25m x 6.2m and is 2.6m high and weighs 3.5 tonnes. These state-of-the-art toilets, which operate from 7am until 7pm, are suppose to be air-conditioned and use automatic sensors that trigger water, soap, hand dryer and flushing system. In addition, there is an automatic function to clean the toilet seats.

The facility can be used for only 20sen for a maximum of 15 minutes. It was built to be disabled and baby-friendly too, with diaper-changing station and baby chair in the cubicle.

StarMetro has been reporting of the continuous breakdown of the ASTs since 2010 citing vandalism and abuse as the causes.

According to the maintenance contractor who spoke to StarMetro on condition of anonymity, the facility is also being misused, including by couples looking for a ‘quickie’.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Tetuan Goh Ban Huat (GBH), the company that provided the toilets to DBKL, said vagrants and drug addicts trying to force open the doors caused its motors to burn. The spokesman added that thieves stealing coin slots, steel bars and screws that had resale value were among the acts of vandalism.

Demolished ASTs

1. Jalan Bukit Bintang (in front of McDonald’s)

2. Jalan Bukit Bintang (in front of Lot 10)

3. Jalan P. Ramlee (near UBN Tower)

4. Jalan Dang Wangi (near Sogo)

5. Jalan Ampang (opposite Denmark House)

6. Jalan Sultan Ismail (junction near Jalan Raja Laut )

7. Jalan Conlay (behind Pavilion)

8. Istana Budaya

9. Jalan Tun HS Lee (near Bangkok Bank)

10. Medan Pasar (HSBC)

11. Hang Tuah (monorail station)

12. Bangsar (near mosque)

What the mayor says

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said the demolished toilets recorded very low usage among others.

“Some of these ASTs are located close to shopping complexes and the public prefer to use the toilets there instead,” he said.

Ahmad Phesal said a few toilets had to be removed because of their location obstructing construction sites.

“The reusable parts from the demolished ASTs will be kept as spare parts for the maintenance of the remaining eight toilets. DBKL will be refurbishing and upgrading the repairs in eight ASTs in stages.

“At the same time, we are identifying some suitable locations for toilets based on requests from the public near tourist attractions but no more AST concept toilets for sure.

“We are working on switching some of the automatic functions into manual mode to reduce cost of maintenance and also to repair the remaining ones in phases,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: Central Region, AST, dbkl, toilet


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