IT is not uncommon to hear of parking problems in flats, but for residents of Flat Seri Perak in Sentul, the situation they are facing is quite dire because more than a hundred designated parking bays for residents have been sacrificed to build a school.
This is especially significant as there were not that many spaces to begin with as the ratio of parking spaces for Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) flats built in the 1980s is a mere one bay to four units.
Over the years, the residents adjusted to the lack of parking spaces within their compound by leaving their vehicles by the side of the road and squeezing into any possible spot.
But since last November, City Hall enforcement officers have started towing away vehicles parked in undesignated areas, leaving residents to cry foul because there is just nowhere else to park.
Some of the vehicles that have been towed away have yet to be reclaimed as the residents say
they will have no choice but to park them again in undesignated spots.
As a result, the fees to reclaim the cars keep rising.
Flat Seri Perak Residents’ Association chairman Limat Jaafar, 43, said there were 1,250 units
in total with more than 5,000 residents.
“SK Seri Perak, which was operating from the ground floor of the flats, was relocated to a new building built on our carpark. There was no other suitable land.
“The project started in 2005, and, after some years of delay, was finally completed last year and began operations.
“We were already short of parking space but gave up many parking bays for the building of the school. So, many started parking by the roadside.
“We got away most of the time except for once in 2016, when traffic police summoned the vehicles parked along the roads.
“I managed to get the summonses waived after appealing to the police but now DBKL is even harsher. The enforcement officers are towing away vehicles without warning,” he said.
Limat said it was unfair for DBKL to take action against them when there was no alternative parking nearby.
“We do not like to park by the roadside either but we have no choice because we live here. DBKL should be lenient with the residents and only tow vehicles that are blocking traffic. Usually, there will be enough space for a vehicle to comfortably pass through.
“And many who live here are in the B40 group, so we cannot afford to pay summonses and towing charges often,” said Limat.
Resident Setyana Yahaya, 43, said DBKL did not give any warning before taking action.
“We have been parking by the roadside for a very long time. So, we are caught by surprise.
“Some thought their cars were stolen because there have been such cases before.
“My car was towed away too and I did not claim it for two weeks because I felt DBKL was being unfair. The bill was RM1,200, not including the compound, but I appealed and settled for a reduced amount.
“The officer at the DBKL depot asked for RM100 for towing charges and RM15 for parking compound to release the vehicles on the same day.
“The officer also said that the charges double the next day and progressively increases each day.
“I know a few who did not claim their cars immediately because they did not have the money to do so,” she said.
Another resident, Mohd Helmie Md Araf, 38, said DBKL did survey the area surrounding the flat to build a multi-storey carpark but there has been no update on the findings.
“Perhaps DBKL can expedite the plan for a carpark complex.
“In the meantime, DBKL can tow away abandoned vehicles in the flat compound. At least 20 to 30 spaces are hogged by these eyesore vehicles.
“But there is also vacant government land nearby that could be turned into a multi-storey carpark. At least it could be opened up for the public to park in the meantime until the multi-storey carpark is built.
“It will not only benefit the residents but also the mosque-goers and visitors to UTC Sentul.
“Also, DBKL should change the yellow lines on the roadside to white lines because this is a residential area and be lenient with roadside parking,” he said.
DBKL executive director (project management) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd said there was no suitable area in Flat Seri Perak to build a multi-storey carpark.
“The residents should understand that they live in an area with insufficient parking. They should have thought about it before buying their vehicles.
“Besides, the flats are located in an area that is very well connected by public transport, such as bus and LRT. The residents should have opted to use public transport instead of relying on private cars,” he said.
Najib said the flats were built for the urban poor but generation after generation continue to live there despite the increase in their household incomes.
“Some households have more than one car. For that reason, parking is a common problem in flats in the city.
“The People’s Housing Project design is made to have only one parking bay per unit and an extra 10% for visitors,” he said.
Najib said he would need to check on the vacant land near the flats to see if it is feasible to turn it into a carpark.