Poverty, crime fuel addiction in public housing schemes

Zainuddin says access to spaces favoured by drug addicts has been barred.Zainuddin says access to spaces favoured by drug addicts has been barred.

ROOFTOPS, underutilised parking bays, storage rooms, staircases and fire hydrant storage areas at housing schemes in Kuala Lumpur are among spaces where drug-related activities take place.

Previously, addicts used to head to secluded areas outdoors but now it is happening within high-rise housing schemes.

“We noticed this happening during the movement control order when people’s movements were restricted, thus the addicts couldn’t go out.

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“So they moved to areas in the building that most people didn’t have access to,” said Cheras drug rehabilitation committee chairman Mohd Zainuddin Amran.

“The doors to these areas are usually locked but they will break the lock to gain access” he said.

He added that most people’s housing projects (PPR) and public housing projects (PA) have reported vandalism at these spots.

Mohd Zainuddin said the top three housing schemes in Bandar Tun Razak and Cheras which had been identified as red zones or risky areas were PPR Taman Mulia, PPR Desa Tun Razak and PA Sri Kota.

“These are high-density areas with populations of between 8,000 and 10,000, where poverty and crime fuel drug addiction.”

Mohd Feisal says regular patrols have stopped youngsters from loitering in some areas.Mohd Feisal says regular patrols have stopped youngsters from loitering in some areas.

PPR Taman Mulia Residents Association chairman PPR Taman Mulia, Mohd Feisal Abdul Manaf said with regular patrolling, they have managed to stop youngsters from hanging out at underutilised parking areas.

“Before this, youngsters would be loitering there and we would find cigarette butts all over the place.

“They also use empty units but these have now been sealed,’’ he said.

PA Sri Kota flats chairman Noirrimah Mohamad said poverty, lack of privacy, peer pressure and stress were factors that have made the area a drug den.

“I guess these kids succumb to addiction as they see it as a way to escape from their problems.

“We are doing everything we can to break the cycle of drug abuse but we need to educate parents to identify signs of addiction,” she added.

Noirrimah says efforts to break the cycle of drug abuse should start at home.Noirrimah says efforts to break the cycle of drug abuse should start at home.

PPR Desa Tun Razak Rukun Tetangga chairman Ngatemin Buang said in the past, addicts were seen taking drugs under staircases or at abandoned units, but the drugs now looked like ordinary pills or cigarettes, making detection even more difficult.

“We advise parents to observe their children’s behaviour closely and check their belongings for such substances,” said Ngatemin.

“There is only so much we can do through regular patrols. Prevention must start from home,” added Noirrimah.

Zainuddin said community leaders were working with AADK to reduce addiction rates in public housing schemes.

Zainuddin, who is also a council member of the Narcotics Addiction Rehabilitation Centre (Puspen), said although Cheras and Bandar Tun Razak were deemed high-risk areas, the situation was improving.

“We are working with AADK, residents’ associations, Rukun Tetangga, joint management bodies and other groups which have programmes to beat drug addiction.”

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