‘Reopen transit centre for homeless’

Set up earlier this year, the temporary transit centre at Badminton Arena in Jalan Kompleks Sukan, Ipoh, was equipped with tents for the homeless. — Filepic

VOLUNTEERS and social activists in Ipoh want Perak government to consider reopening a temporary transit centre for the homeless, amid the conditional movement control order.

Dapur Jalanan Ipoh (DJI) co-founder Zeti Suhaila Mustafa Kamal worries about the living conditions of the homeless in Ipoh.

Zeti says  Dapur Jalanan Ipoh will serve food to more  of the  homeless.Zeti says Dapur Jalanan Ipoh will serve food to more of the homeless.

“The number of Covid-19 cases in Ipoh is spiking and we are worried about the well-being of the homeless.

“It will help if the centre is reopened again as they will have a place to seek shelter.

“If they sleep out on the streets, they are exposed to danger, including the coronavirus, ” she said.

During the MCO in April, more than 85 homeless people were placed in the temporary transit centre at the Badminton Arena in Jalan Kompleks Sukan.

They were given five meals a day with access to a clean bathroom.

They were warned about Covid-19 infections and the importance of maintaining personal hygiene.

The shelter, however, was closed on June 5, when the MCO moved into the recovery phase.

Zeti said there were two shelters for the homeless in Ipoh but that these were only opened to those who visited regularly.

“One allows the regulars to stay while the other allows the homeless to only sleep at its premises.

“The doors are kept locked during the day.

“We hope that seeing the pandemic situation now, the state government will act fast and open the centre right away, ” she said.

She added that DJI planned to serve food to more of the homeless if Covid-19 cases continued to increase.

Pay It Forward Ipoh co-founder Susan Ho said urgency was key to helping the homeless.

“They are being exposed daily.

“While we do give out face masks together with food, more needs to be done.”

She said it was important to reopen the transit centre.

“At least half of the homeless people who used to stay at the transit centre are now back to sleeping on the streets, ” she lamented.

A volunteer, who wished to be known only as Ahmed, said some of the homeless also hoped the transit centre would be reopened.

“Most of them are sleeping under bridges or at hideaways as they are worried about being arrested for being outside after 10pm during the MCO.

“They stayed at the transit centre for several weeks and were happy to be given a place to sleep and clean up properly, ” he added.

“Some of them are old and ill. With the pandemic, we are worried about their condition.

“I hope the government will consider our request and reopen the transit centre, at least until the number of Covid-19 cases goes down, ” said Ahmed.

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