‘Probe for answers, please’

Construction debris still not cleared at the Astaka field carpark as of yesterday afternoon.

STAKEHOLDERS in Petaling Jaya are calling for an audit to decide if the service providers at the Astaka field should be retained.

This is following a report in StarMetro on the neglected state of the Astaka field with park users calling to the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to save the field and its surrounding area from further ruin.

After the report, there were also calls for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate how local government maintenance expenditure was spent.

Community effort group My Petaling Jaya (MyPJ) said heavy fines should be meted out to offenders who dumped waste at the Astaka field.

The group, comprising 18 non-governmental organisations, professionals and residents’ association representatives, urged all parks to have a committee looking into the issues there.

It was reported that the field and surrounding areas had become a spot where construction debris was dumped and open burning took place.

Mosquito infestation also raised concern among the park visitors as the carpark there was flooded with rainwater .

Councillor Derek Fernandez said the condition of the field was unacceptable and a disgrace to the council.

He was surprised over the poor condition of the field because there was annual allocation for the maintenance of the field.

“I will raise this issue at the next full board meeting and I have already alerted the mayor.

“This is a case of repeated neglect of duty despite adequate budget allocated to carry out the job,” he said.

“There is no reasonable excuse other than poor supervision.

“Or it could be incompetence or dishonesty on the contractor’s part.

“I hope the MACC will continue to look into local government maintenance expenditure similar to that being done for the Cheras Crematorium in Kuala Lumpur,” he added.

Former councillor Richard Yeoh suggested that the council privatised the field to ensure it was well maintained with the hopes that ratepayers would get value-for-money services.

Yeoh urged the council not to take the mosquito infestation lightly with the outbreak of diseases such as Zika and dengue.

“Millions are budgeted for park and field upkeep in Petaling Jaya.

“If MBPJ is incapable of managing public parks properly, I suggest privatising all public parks in the city to reputable companies so ratepayers would get better value for their assessment.

“It is unacceptable that while dengue fever is endemic and residents are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle that neighbourhood parks are badly maintained,” he said.

A MyPJ spokesman said the cleanliness and upkeep of any park was everyone’s responsibility, including the local authorities, park users and non-park users.

Those responsible for the dumping of renovation debris and assorted rubbish must be held accountable, she said.

“The illegal dumping creates a breeding ground for deadly mosquitoes.

“Every public park should have a park committee comprising relevant advocates, local community and local authority representatives.

“They should have regular meetings to evaluate the concerns of the park users,” she said.

Another MyPJ spokesman said the public was constantly hoodwinked and was fed up with MBPJ’s excuses over the years.

“MBPJ has shown unacceptable snail-paced seriousness to improve service delivery.

“There is a reluctance to be accountable for failures on their part in monitoring the contractors,” he said.

Kelab Sahabat Taman Aman Petaling Jaya president Rajendram Govindasamy also echoed the idea of appointing park managers to take care of the parks.

He said the idea had been raised to the council in the past and it was time for implementation.

“The MBPJ landscape department has to manage about 200 projects under its care including large public parks, children’s playground beautification, trimming and cutting of trees, looking after assets and inventory.

“The department seems to have a lot to shoulder and I think it is too much for one department director.

“We suggested years ago to appoint park managers and form park committees to care for the needs of the users,” he said.

As of press time, Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain could not be contacted for comment.

However, he had told StarMetro earlier that he would look into the issues pertaining to the field.

StarMetro noticed that some of the illegally dumped waste had been removed from the Astaka field compound yesterday afternoon. But, there was still waste which remained there as at press time.

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