THE First Garden low-cost flats are riddled with problems at every nook and corner and are in a pathetic condition.
Garbage is strewn everywhere, the drains are clogged and the third floor of each of the eight blocks at the flats have been turned into pigeon houses.
A check by The Star showed that little was being done to improve on its condition, which had made people move out, and some abandoning their former homes.
Labourer Leong Kok Heng, 53, said many residents are unable to do anything when they see their neighbours throwing garbage indiscriminately.
“Garbage is everywhere. The minute an area has been swept and cleaned, it will be filled with rubbish again.
“The drains are also clogged with loads of rubbish,” he said.
Leong added that the flats used to be a good place to live when it was built in the 1980s.
“There used to be a market next to the flats and everything was clean.
“It was also very convenient to have an open space at the nearby field to exercise,” he said.
“I do not know what happened but the condition of the flats began to go downhill later on.”
Pos Malaysia employee Haslina Tumin, 31, said the main problem was caused by some of the apathetic residents who did not want to cooperate and keep their flats clean.
“These are, after all, their homes too. But they are not helping and are only making the condition of the flats worse,” she said.
“The clogged drains are also attracting lots of mosquitoes and I have heard that several residents have fallen sick because of dengue.”
Housewife Cheng Swee Kheng, 62, said the management committee of the flats was powerless against the litterbugs.
“The management committee is doing its job of getting help from the Ipoh City Council to clean the place and to pick up the garbage.
“But there’s only so much the committee can do as it cannot get everyone’s cooperation,” she said.
“Some of the residents just don’t care and keep throwing their garbage indiscriminately. And some, not happy with the condition of the flats, have stopped paying the RM25 maintenance fees.
“The condition of the flats has become so terrible that many people have moved out.”
Cheng said her children residing in Kuala Lumpur have also urged her to move out.
“This is my home and I’m comfortable here. I don’t want to leave it like this,” she said.
With so many residents moving out, 55-year-old former factory operator Gabriel Anthony said outsiders began to move in.
“People who don’t care for the flats are just coming in and out.
“There are a lot of people who use some of the empty lots as their hideout to take drugs,” he said, adding that the flats also lacked security.
“The empty lots are scaring away people,” said the former resident who moved out about nine years ago.
Anthony also said there were a lot of break-ins and theft of ceiling boards, wires, cables as well as metal grilles attached to the windows and doors from the abandoned lots.
“These unscrupulous people even have the audacity to ask the residents to mind their own business while they try to take away anything that can be sold.
“There are even youths bringing girls to those empty lots to have sex,” he said.
“The residents have called the police but no action was taken,” he said, adding that the police would not go up to the upper levels and would only patrol the ground floor.
Foreman S.K. Hee, 54, who had lived there for about 20 years also said that theft and break-ins were major problems there.
“Because I travelled to Kelantan often for work, I seldom stayed there and only went back during weekends to check on my place.
“The door grille, cables and wires outside my lot were stolen once about eight years ago.
“I reported the matter to the police but I think the case has gone cold as I have heard nothing from them,” said Hee.
Factory worker Lim Peng Huat, 24, believed that some of the theft and break-ins were done by some of the flat residents.
“The unit next to mine was broken into recently. The owner had moved out eight years ago to Jelapang.
“The whole place was turned upside down. I tried to find the owner but to no avail,” he said, hoping the police would have more patrols at the flats to control the criminal activities there.
1Malaysia Complaints and Service Centre chairman P. Matthew said an action committee had been set up to look into the issues plaguing the flats.
“We held a discussion with the city council’s building commission and residents to set up the committee to look into the spate of problems there.
“Some of the problems that we want to look into first included the piping system, the broken roofs, electricity outage and piles of rubbish,” he said, adding that the complaints on crime cases would be forwarded to the police.
“I will try my best to provide community support services and advice through the formation of the action committee.”
Matthew hoped that the city council would do its best to help out at the flats.
“I sincerely hope the flats can be saved from further dilapidation,” he said, adding that a gotong-royong would be held to help clean up the place.
He also hoped the State Health Department would visit the top floor of the flats, which was being inhabited by pigeons.
“The top floor of the flats are all abandoned and has become a ‘nest’ for pigeons.
“Each lot there is filled with bird droppings and I fear it is a health hazard for the residents there,” he said.
Matthew also hoped to organise a health campaign to educate the residents on the importance of maintaining cleanliness.