‘Mansions’ of filth

Residents of Selangor Mansion comprise mostly foreign workers. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

THE corridors of the eight-storey Selangor Mansion flats in Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur, have been quiet the past two weeks.

The 857 residents living inside the dilapidated building hardly venture outside their units.

About 95% of its residents are foreigners, comprising 319 from Bangladesh, India (275), Nepal (41), Indonesia (40), Myanmar (eight) and 170 whose identities have not been determined.

The indication that so many people are living within the premises is clearest in the amount of rubbish, consisting of mainly food packaging, scattered around the place.The rubbish rooms are full of waste which has not been collected for days.

Rubbish dumped from units in the higher floors can be seen on the ledge. Some had been left near staircases as residents were afraid to venture out of their units for fear of getting Covid-19.

Water ponding is common, making several areas ideal breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes.

“If I don’t die from contracting the coronavirus, I may die from dengue or other diseases because of the unsanitary conditions here, ” said 38-year-old Pawan from Bangladesh.

“Nobody hangs out in the corridor anymore because of the unhygienic conditions. Most of us stay inside our rooms, even though we are sharing with so many others, ” he said.

Selangor Mansion as well as Malayan Mansion, which is located across the road, have been placed under enhanced movement control order (MCO) since April 7.

Residents have shared pictures of their living conditions with StarMetro, which can only be described as deplorable.

Pawan said since the enhanced MCO was imposed, no one had come to clean the place.

When asked to comment about the incident where security personnel were reportedly pelted with rubbish and other things, Pawan said, “‘Flying rubbish’ is quite common. People here throw rubbish everywhere.”

“But we don’t throw urine, that is not true, ’’ he insisted.

Ironically, despite the poor conditions, the monthly rental is between RM2,500 and RM3,000 per unit. The area is considered a goldmine due to its central location.

Pawan’s neighbour, Bashor Ahmad, shares a 900sq ft flat with 15 others who are working in various construction sites around the city. “It is very difficult to practise social distancing in such cramped quarters. Everyone has just picked a corner to sit in and we hardly speak to one another, ” Bashor said.

The situation is similar at Malayan Mansion which houses 783 residents, who are from India (382), Bangladesh (173), Malaysia (108), Indonesia (27), Pakistan (14) Nepal (10), Sri Lanka (two) and China (two) while the identities of the other 65 has not been determined.

Selangor and Malayan Mansions Association president Bahadur Bhai said he was aware that conditions were bad and admitted that he had not been there for the past two months. “My manager communicates with the tenants and management office, ” Bahadur said.

He agreed that the place definitely needed a clean-up as it was a health hazard.

“The management company’s office has been closed since the enhanced MCO was implemented, ” said JK Shin, who owns several units in both flats.

“My staff are housed there and they have complained of the terrible situation, especially the uncollected rubbish, ’’ he added.

Shin said he paid RM4,018 per year in quit rent, service charge and sinking fund for his commercial unit and RM3,770 for the residential unit.

“Very little is being done to upkeep the place and keep it in good condition.”

Another landlord, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he had just received a notice from the management informing owners that the maintenance charges would be increased.

The notice stated that they planned to increase maintenance charges by 25% as the building was 55 years old hence needed frequent and major repairs.

“In 2018, they increased the fees, saying that the building was ageing and needed repairs but very little was done to improve the place, ” said the landlord.

However, not all landlords feel that the management should be solely responsible for cleaning the buildings.

“This is a unique situation. The tenants should also do their part and clean up after themselves, ” said a unit owner who only wanted to be known as Mohd Takur.

“They have to take responsibility. And the authorities have to make sure the tenants clean up, ” Takur said.

In response, Pawan said they did not have proper equipment to carry out the task.

“We hardly have enough face masks and hand sanitiser let alone protective gear.”

“Residents here are even afraid to come out, can you blame us?” he asked.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the company that managed the two buildings, said they were not allowed to go in to clean up the flats due to the enhanced MCO.

“Once the enhanced MCO is lifted, we will go in and do a thorough clean-up. We are already prepared for that, and we know what needs to be done, ’’ he said when contacted, adding that they were merely following the government’s guidelines.

However, Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation Federal Territories director Mohd Zahir Shari said cleaning services was essential service during both MCO and enhanced MCO.

“Waste contractors are required to carry out cleaning services and they still have to pick up the rubbish from the collection points, even in the Masjid India area, which is under lockdown currently.

“Building managers are still required to carry out cleaning work in their premises. Rubbish left to rot there will expose the residents to other diseases, ” he said.

Mohd Zahir said the management should speak to the police officer in charge of manning the two apartments.

At Menara City One, the first building to be put under lockdown, manager Daud Ansari said apart from management staff, security and cleaning service staff were on duty.

“Work continues as usual albeit with restrictions, but our cleaners have been ensuring that work goes on as usual and rubbish is collected according to schedule, ” he said.

As of April 18,39 positive Covid-19 cases were reported in Menara City One, 84 cases in Selangor Mansion and six in Malayan Mansion.

One death was reported in Menara City One.

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