Monuments to failure

  • Community
  • Monday, 09 Jan 2017

Automatic street toilets, a Taj Mahal-inspired food court, a sophisticated flood warning system and bridges meant for the blind are among the projects in the city that have failed and cost taxpayers millions of ringgit.

Ghost Bridges – RM11mil

OVERHEAD bridges are meant to be a safer option for crossing the road, especially for the disabled. Ironically, in Kuala Lumpur, these bridges have been rejected by both the blind and the sighted.

When they were proposed a few years ago, some of these bridges were met with protests. There were even people who predicted that they would become white elephants.

Two years after they were built in 2010 for RM11mil, five pedestrian bridges along Jalan Tun Sambanthan and Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad were found to be not only underutilised but vandalised.

Three were installed with six lifts meant for the disabled, costing RM2.7mil each. It didn’t take long for them to break down. All either had railings missing or graffiti scrawled all over them.

Last year, realising their mistake, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) announced that four lifts would be dismantled. Only the lifts on the pedestrian bridge on Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4 would remain. What a waste of public funds!

RM8mil flushed down the toilet

THE Automatic Street Toilets, or AST for short, certainly deserves to be on this list. It made its first appearance along Bintang Walk, Jalan Bukit Bintang in 2006 when it was launched by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, then the Deputy Prime Minister.

Twenty automatic street toilets costing RM400,000 each were built all over the city centre.
Twenty automatic street toilets costing RM400,000 each were built all over the city centre.

Each AST cost RM400,000, and there were 20 constructed all over the city centre. Since then, one by one, the toilets started to break down for various reasons, from vandalism to bad management.

It was reported in 2014, that DBKL planned to close all the toilets as they were no longer economical to manage. These toilets were meant to serve tourists, and the 12 that were eventually demolished were located at tourism hotspots. Only one or two of the remaining eight AST are reported to be in working order.

Obsolete equipment – RM565mil

IN 2002, a traffic surveillance system costing more than RM365mil was launched with much fanfare. It was intended to gather, process and supply real-time traffic information to reduce traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur.

Just a few months later, the Integrated Transport Information System or ITIS, had become a target for vandals. And the technology became obsolete soon after.

Today, 16 years later, the system has been given a new lease of life after DBKL privatised the project and a new and improved ITIS was unveiled, albeit costing an additional RM200mil.

DBKL has given its assurance that the new version would be more cost-effective, efficient and future-proofed. Since ITIS is primarily a traffic surveillance system, its system component is integrated with 140 Variable Message Sign (VMS) and 998 CCTV cameras, but the question is just how many motorists actually rely on it when they are driving in the city?

Most of the time, the VMS boards disseminate only general information such as which number to call for traffic info.

The bridge to nowhere – RM65mil (estimate)

This is probably the longest, tallest, most expensive and underutilised pedestrian bridge in the city. While we do not have the exact figure as to costing, it’s safe to say that the bridge on Jalan Cheras is in the seven-figure range.

The bridge in question has been dubbed the Ikan Ayu bridge by residents in the area. It links up to Jalan Loke Yew over Jalan Ikan Ayu.

The bridge is twice as long as the 10-lane road because one end straddles a broad road shoulder as well as Jalan Ikan Mas.

It was built high to enable low-loaders transporting oversized objects to pass underneath it as the concrete structure cannot be dismantled.

It also has two lifts installed on both sides for the elderly and the disabled. The road is separated by the Sri Sabah Apartments on one side and the low-rise Sri Pulau Pinang flats on the other. However, hardly anybody uses the bridge.

The multi-million ringgit traffic surveillance system called ITIS is also deemed to be a white elephant.
The multi-million ringgit traffic surveilance system called ITIS is also deemed to be a white elephant.

In fact, when StarMetro visited the bridge, we saw many people, particularly the elderly just making a dash for it to get across the road.

The area near the lift door on the ground level has been turned into a garbage dump. The bridge itself has CCTV’s installed on it, but all three units have been damaged. A mattress and mosquitoes coil left behind is an indication that it has been used by vagrants to sleep at night.

The Taj Mahal of Brickfields – RM16mil

THIS relatively new project in KL is dubbed the Taj Mahal of Brickfields by residents.

Built at a cost of RM16mil, the Moghul-inspired Tun Sambanthan Complex, formerly known as The Pines, was finally open for business early last year after being delayed for a few years. However, traders who were supposed to move in are refusing to go there for various reasons.

Its opening date had been pushed back several times over the past three years due to multiple problems.

Today, only a handful of shops are open at the site. It is learnt that several former Pines restaurant owners refused to move in.

The three-storey building is already showing signs of decay, as many of the facilities are starting to rust. The floors are covered with dirt, and cigarettes butts are scattered all over the floor, especially on the empty second floor.

Kompleks Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields, formerly known as The Pines, features Moghul architecture.
Kompleks Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields, formerly known as The Pines, features Moghul architecture.

Ironically, the third floor is being used by Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Lembah Pantai Branch office but the place is filthy.

The building comprises two basement levels with 170 parking bays, complemented by more parking bays in the rear of the building.

There are 12 food outlets on the ground floor, including for indoor as well as al fresco dining; 16 retail outlets on the first or mezzanine floor with its own plaza; and office space on the second floor.

It has two lifts, an open staircase and two enclosed fire escape routes located at both ends of the building.

Now you see it, now you don’t? RM200,000

COSTING almost RM200,000, this project is the quickest to have turned into a white elephant. Less than two weeks after it was launched by former mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib in late 2013, it was damaged by vandals.

The brainchild of DBKL and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID); it is a flood-warning system that involves a huge balloon.

The balloon would rise up when it’s flooded to warn residents living in the flood-prone Kampung Kasipillay in Jalan Ipoh. Less than a month later, it was vandalised and the balloon was brought down. There were plans to install more of these balloons in other areas, but the project has been suspended.

Where is our carpark? RM24mil

Kompleks TLK or Kompleks Tempat Letak Kereta is the latest white elephant of Brickfields. The multi-level carpark is still not open despite the building being fully completed.

The parking facility offering over 327 bays cost a whopping RM24mil. It is located on Jalan Tun Sambanthan 6 behind the Pos Malaysia branch and next to the Tamil Methodist Church.

It was first announced by then Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin in 2010.

Apart from the parking bays, Kompleks TPK also has a community hall, 50 motorcycle bays, three badminton courts, an office and a surau.

Residents hope the carpark will open before 2020 to help reduce parking problems in Brickfields, considering how – with all the new developments being approved by DBKL – congestion in the township is likely to reach critical level by then.

Oasis gone wrong – RM10mil

“Ain Arabia” or “Eye of Arabia” on Jalan Berangan in Bukit Bintang was constructed at cost of RM10mil.

Launched in 2005, the 0.2ha site was made to look like a lovely Arab garden, complete with a giant bronze teapot which channels water out its long spout, sort of like a water fountain. The DBKL project saw the involvement of artisans from Syria and Uzbekistan in its design and construction.

It involved installing a welcome arch at the entrance to the park, gazebos, benches, decorative lights, potted plants and planting palm trees.

The place was meant to be a resting spot for the growing number of Arab tourists who are known to visit Kuala Lumpur between July and August.

A lovely man-made lake inside Taman Dusun.
A lovely man-made lake inside Taman Dusun.

However, the once popular landmark is not only showing signs of decay, it has become the hangout for drug addicts and vagrants. And instead of tourists, it has turned into a hangout spot for foreign workers.

When DBKL announced plans to turn it into a tourist spot, it created a stir among the residents living in the old flats nearby who expressed doubts about the project.

Dying markets

IT is no secret food courts and markets run by DBKL in the city are not working out. This is probably not the fault of the local authority, but rather the proliferation of hypermarkets and roadside hawkers throughout the city.

A good example is the Pasar Besar Cheras in Taman Tenaga Cheras.

Built more than 30 years ago, the three-storey market is practically dead despite being located close to the city centre.

Only 20% of the building is utilised by traders. The first floor is totally empty and the lifts are no longer in working condition.

Fruit orchard gone bad – RM17.2mil

Taman Dusun Bandar, a relatively new park located along Jalan Bellamy behind the former Istana Negara, has been plagued by a series of controversies since it was opened a few years ago.

Built at a cost of RM17.2mil, the fruit and herb garden was meant to be a major tourist draw. But soon after it opened, the fruit trees started dying and some of the facilities began to erode and crumble.

The Kompleks TLK Brickfields that has been ready for a year but still remains unopened.
The kompleks TLK Brickfields that has been ready for a year but still remains unopened.

In 2013, the Auditor-General’s Report revealed a series of discrepancies involving the contractor and the project was declared a failure.

When StarMetro visited the park recently, there were no clear signage leading to the park. Many of the fruit trees were in a poor state with dried-up leaves and insect-ridden holes on the trunks.

The toilets were badly-lit and in a poor condition, while the playground was clearly underutilised. It’s a pity that the park is not popular with city folks and tourists alike as it is actually a beautiful park and has potential.

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