HUNDREDS of drains, culverts, manhole covers and gully grates in various parts of Kuala Lumpur are falling apart.
Pedestrian walkways in commercial areas are riddled with gaping holes and broken manhole covers that pose a threat to the community.
Some gully grates are dislodged from their hinges and can easily give way or collapse under pressure.
Drain covers built on pedestrian walkways are also crumbling.
Justin Tan, a resident of Taman United in Jalan Kelang Lama, recently fell and hurt himself after accidentally tripping over a broken drain cover.
The drain cover was already about to give way and while in a rush to buy food at Jalan Mega Mendung business area, he fell and hurt his knee.
“I was trying to get to the shops before they closed at 8pm.
“I know the drain has been broken for three years, but this time in my rush, I forgot about it and didn’t sidestep it.
“The entire stretch, easily 1km, is riddled with broken drains and damaged drain covers. It is very dangerous,” Tan added.
This situation is similar in every neighbourhood in the city, especially the commercial areas with a high volume of vehicular and foot traffic.
Apart from posing a threat to people, these crumbling infrastructure are impacting the community including those cleaning roads and drains.
For instance, the broken infrastructure like drains and missing manhole covers are causing the drains to get clogged and are among the reasons for flash floods.
When surface water is not able to flow freely, it will cause water to stagnate and mosquitoes will breed which leads to the spread of diseases.
Missing covers and broken drains also allow rubbish and debris to get into the drainage system (and eventually rivers) easily.
In some areas, the drainage infrastructure is old that the manhole covers are on the verge of collapsing and can easily break if someone walk on it or ride a bicycle over it.
Alam Flora’s cleaning crew has also reported difficulties in completing their tasks over collapsed drains.
Federal Territories Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) director Mohd Zahir Shari said that following complaints from Alam Flora, SWCorp prepared a report on the broken structures that hampered their work.
“We prepare a report every week of the obstacles Alam Flora workers encounter in various areas and submit to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL),” he said.
When asked if there was a list of hotspots, Mohd Zahir said there were cases everywhere, especially commercial areas like Chow Kit and Bukit Bintang.
He said the department would share the picture and location with DBKL officers in a WhatsApp chat group first and follow up with an official letter with photographs.
“We will then check if there was follow-up action.
“If there is none we will file another report.
“We have to push for this as it is hampering Alam Flora’s efforts in cleaning up the city.
“If there is a flash flood, stagnated water needs to be cleared before the workers can do the job,” he said.
Mohd Zahir added that at times, utility contractors damaged the drains when doing work.
Many stakeholders interviewed by StarMetro also blamed irresponsible individuals for the damage to infrastructure.
“Motorcyclists, especially the food delivery riders, can be partly blamed for the broken infrastructure,” said Sarah Ali, who works in a fast-food restaurant in Jalan Imbi.
“I have seen some of them park their motorcycles and wait on walkways.
“I also noticed many small trucks and vans park on walkways to unload their goods,” she said, adding that the weight of the vehicles could damage manhole and drain covers.
Sarah hoped the authorities would take action against these people who damaged public properties.
Over at Jalan Mega Mendung, business owners said the decaying infrastructure problem in the area was not new.
“It has been there for years and it is getting worse,” said a bakery manager who did want to be identified.
“It has never been a priority for the council or the businesses to rectify the problem.
“People here were more concerned about getting parking spaces. And now they are just trying to survive the pandemic,’’ he said.
DBKL executive director (Project Management) Datuk Azmi Abdul Hamid said he was aware of the situation.
He promised that each complaint would be looked into and resolved based on the urgency and safety concerns.
“There is an SOP in place, particularly in regards to Inter-national Trade and Industry Ministry approval.
“Like everyone else, we have to follow that,” Azmi said.
“But, of course, in emergency situations that involve public safety, we can expedite the repair works,’’ he added.