Look into needs of urban poor

More emphasis needed: Safety measures at low-cost flats are lacking. — filepic

More emphasis needed: Safety measures at low-cost flats are lacking. — filepic

STAKEHOLDERS present at a briefing on Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) 2014 proposed budget took the opportunity to raise concerns related to road conditions, landscape as well as woes affecting the urban poor.

Residents associations (RA), Rukun Tetangga (RT) and non-governmental organisation (NGO) leaders were present at the closed- door meeting organised by MBPJ recently.

They were divided into four groups — infrastructure, social development, landscaping and cleanliness.

MBPJ deputy mayor Puasa Md Taib as well as representatives from the council’s various departments were present at the briefing.

People’s Housing Project (PPR) Section 8, Kota Damansara chairman Johari Nander said: “There should be a more holistic approach towards tackling issues affecting the urban poor.”

“More activities should be organised for them, especially for those living in PPR units in Kota Damansara and Lembah Subang.

“Poverty rate in the city is increasing every year and I feel that MBPJ’s current approach to tackling this issue is not very effective,” he said.

He said since MBPJ had an allocation of RM4.62mil for social activities as well as RM120,000 for poverty eradication activities this year, more should be done.

“What have they been using the money for?

“The only activity conducted so far for the PPR residents was a two-day course, mostly for single mothers, to teach them to sew or make handicraft.

Johari, part of the Social Development group at the briefing, said since the proposed budget for next year is RM4.65mil for social activities and RM240,000mil for poverty eradication, MBPJ must conduct more activities with the extra funds available.

He said there were about 1,152 low-cost units in PPR Kota Damansara and 3,500 low-cost units at the PPR Lembah Subang.

“About 95% of the residents are living in poverty, earning RM1,500 or less,” he said, adding that safety measures at low-cost flats were also lacking.

Johari said the residents did not earn enough to hire security guards or even install closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) and as such MBPJ must do its part.

Meanwhile, Rukun Tetangga Section 22 chairman G. Rajendram, in the landscaping group, said they had proposed that MBPJ draws up public landscape maintenance schedules as well as improve on maintenance of parks, fields and lakes in the city.

Records show that there are about 454 parks and 30 football fields under MBPJ’s maintenance.

However, only RM18mil has been allocated for maintenance and landscaping at parks, fields, lakes as well as for trimming and cutting of trees.

“This is too little for all this,” he said.

“Maintenance presently is inadequate and many have complained about the condition of recreational areas.

“Some have to repeatedly call MBPJ to trim trees in their area,” he said.

In addition, he said they hoped that MBPJ would compile its Master Landscape Plan and distribute it to all RA and RT’s in the area.

This plan, he said, would keep the public informed about landscaping guidelines.

Although available on the MBPJ website, he said many were not aware.

Rajendram said the public must also be made aware of rules in landscaping, such as that trees must be planted one metre away from drains and that the public were prohibited from planting trees that would cause roads to be narrowed.

Other proposals include asking MBPJ to instal more CCTVs in crime hotspots as well as impose charges on heavy vehicles plying industrial zones.

They proposed that each vehicle owned by the business operators be charged a certain fee, and the money collected used for road maintenance.

Puasa assured residents that all views and proposals voiced out during the briefing would be taken into account.

Friends of Kota Damansara chairman Jeffrey Phang said: “We want to be included in MBPJ’s Budget Monitoring Committee to ensure our proposals are carried out.

“Only councillors and MBPJ representatives are allowed to be part of the committee now. We residents are kept in the dark.”