High cost of vandalism

Guard rails are missing some metal bars as they have been taken by drug addicts to sell to the scrap yard.

In the last two-and-a-half years, Klang Municipal Council (MPK) has spent almost RM1mil on fixing vandalised public amenities — money that could have been better spent on improving services.

Damaged feeder pillar boxes, stolen metal poles for road signs, missing drain gratings and graffiti were some of the issues that the council needed to address from 2018 to June 2020.

During that period, MPK was forced to use funds from its assessment tax collection to fund the repairs.

Port Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri said vandalised public property had affected the municipality’s budget.

He said the upkeep of civic infrastructure would take longer to complete as MPK was cash-strapped in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected its revenue.

“Vandalism is one of the costliest issues in Klang. In two and a half years, the council has spent a total of RM980,000 on repairs.

“In that same period, copper fittings stolen from street lights cost the council RM278,000, stolen metal poles meant for street names or notices, and concave street mirrors placed for safety cost RM230,000, while damaged traffic lights cost RM68,000, ” he said.

Azmizam showing a cage built for a feeder pillar box at Jalan Kem to deter vandals.Azmizam showing a cage built for a feeder pillar box at Jalan Kem to deter vandals.

Azmizam lamented that RM980,000 could provide at least 10,000 students from underprivileged families with full sets of uniforms, including a pair of shoes each.

He added that high on the list of vandalised items were street lights as the copper fittings were at knee height.

“Drug addicts are the main culprits who steal the metal to sell to scrap dealers.

“Even the interlocking bricks from walkways had been removed, affecting some 430 areas, ” he said.

MPK president Dr Ahmad Fadzli Ahmad Tajuddin said, “I have been with the council for a little more than 100 days and learning that RM980,000 had been used to fix vandalised public amenities is painful to hear.

“I believe the real cost of senseless destruction of public property is that it also endangers the lives of people.

“I understand that there was a case in Klang sometime back where a missing metal drain cover led to a student falling and suffering serious injuries, ” he said.

Fadzli added that to overcome vandalism, it would require a collective effort where residents work with the police and MPK to report such acts as soon as they occurred.“We as a community must be concerned about damage to public amenities.

“People must not turn a blind eye to the problem but take steps to stop it.

“One phone call to the police to highlight the matter for a prompt arrest to be made will send the message that vandalism is not acceptable, ” he said.

Fadzli added that council’s Enforcement Department officers would be on the alert for acts of vandalism while on patrol.

Azmizam said Jalan Kem in Port Klang was in pitch darkness because thieves had scaled up the 10m-high street lights and taken out several large lamps, presumably to sell as scrap metal.

“Several lamps from the street lights are missing despite them being at a great height and this has puzzled Klang District’s Public Works Department (JKR), as the street lights are under their purview, ” he said.

Klang district JKR engineer Syaharidanisman Mohd Johanis agreed that JKR’s feeder pillar boxes, guard rails on bridges and street lights had been vandalised.

Nothing spared: Vandals have stolen the cast iron guard rails on Jambatan  Jalan Kem, Port Klang. —SS KANESAN/  The StarNothing spared: Vandals have stolen the cast iron guard rails on Jambatan Jalan Kem, Port Klang. —SS KANESAN/ The Star

“Our department made numerous police reports in the past but it is difficult to find the culprits.

“It is hard to catch the vandals and we need evidence.

“We hope people who are out and about with their smartphones and chance upon someone committing an act of vandalism can take a video or photo of it and call the police, ” he added.

Meanwhile, Selangor public infrastructure and facility, agriculture modernisation and agro-based industry committee chairman Izham Hashim said residents who witness the deliberate destruction or damage to public property must report the matter to the police.

“Vandalism is a massive problem as it diverts financial allocations from being used on better purposes such as to build the community or provide better amenities, be it a better park or library, ” he said.

Izham added that based on records, Selangor JKR spent an estimated RM4.8mil yearly to repair or replace street furniture and amenities that had been vandalised.

“Such irresponsible acts that are anti-social behaviour affects community pride, ” he said.

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