Enforcement of rule seems selective

Blocked in: An Alam Flora truck is unable to get through the narrow confines of a back alley in Kuala Lumpur because of two vehicles that are stuck in front of it. — Photo by STUART MICHAEL

THE increasing number of illegal stalls sprouting up in various parts of Kuala Lumpur is not only a nuisance to the public, but have also been blamed for the worsening rubbish and rat menace in the city.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has started taking action against some of these stall operators.

Last week, a quarrel broke out between DBKL officers and a female hawker in Taman Tasik Permaisuri, Cheras. The entire fiasco was captured on video and it went viral on social media as soon as it was uploaded.

The three-minute video seemingly depicted a team of diligent DBKL officers who claimed that they were merely doing their job to rid the city of illegal hawkers. However, the incident drew mixed reactions from netizens, with some saying that DBKL should focus on the big businesses that were a public nuisance.

In an immediate reaction, both Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Adnan Md Ikhsan and DBKL director-general Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin defended the DBKL officers, saying that they were merely doing their job to remove illegal hawkers.

It was reported that the police were currently investigating the incident in Cheras as one of obstructing a public servant from carrying out his duties.

However, one community leader in Bangsar is not buying their tale.

Armed with a video camera, Bukit Bandaraya Residents Association chairman Datuk M. Ali went out to capture scenes of how residents face daily obstruction from illegal hawkers who set up stalls all over the township.

Ali said he decided to record the video after observing the fiasco in Cheras.

“It is good that they (DBKL officers) are enforcing the rule, but they must also go after the illegal hawkers in Bangsar and everywhere else, the latter are causing nuisance.

“I am doing this to prove a point. I want the authorities, DBKL and the FT Ministry to see what it is like living with illegal hawkers on a daily basis. I want them to know how it feels,’’ Ali said, adding that he planned to post the video on Bukit Bandaraya’s Facebook page.

Ali also hoped the move would encourage other residents’ associations to take videos of illegal hawkers / structures in their areas and post the video on their respective Facebook pages to create awareness.

Proving a point

“Every day we see them (illegal hawkers) double- and triple-parking, and taking up the much-needed parking spaces in front of our houses. When we tell them to move, they glare at us as though we are the enemy,’’ said a frustrated Ali.

“My question is, would the mayor (Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib) or the minister (Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor) condone the presence of an illegal stall operating in front of their houses?’’ he asked.

This restaurant in Jalan Bangsar Baru 8, had its illegal extensions demolished by city hall months ago. Yet the owner has done nothing to clear the mess which is taking up precious space.
Eyesore: Although this restaurant's illegal structure was demolished by DBKL months ago, the mountain of mess is still there.- Photos by SAMUEL ONG

“Apart from causing obstruction, the illegal stalls are also attracting rats to these places. Rats are filthy disease-carrying pests. Who is to blame for an outbreak of a disease?’’ he added.

Ali said he had written many letters and lodged complaints with the local authority for several years on the growing number of illegal hawkers operating in the township.

The numbers, he said, had tripled over the years and yet no action had been taken against them.

“While we emphathise with the hawkers as we know they are only trying to make ends meet, there are better ways to handle this problem such as relocating them to proper food courts,’’ he said.

Political interference

Many said they had heard that political interference was frustrating efforts to curb the problem.

Simran Kaur, a Bangsar resident living in Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, said the police should investigate the big restaurants and stalls in the area that had illegally set up structures blocking public paths.

“The entire Lorong Maarof is taken over by illegal stalls. They obstruct traffic on a daily basis and yet get away scot-free,’’ she said.

Simran added that a pile of rubble and rubbish had piled up in front of an eatery in Jalan Bangsar Utama 8.

The rubble was part of an illegal structure that was demolished by DBKL enforcement officers several months ago.

“The mountain of mess is still there and has become an eyesore and unhygienic. DBKL officers are there on a daily basis, yet they take no action against the stall owner for not clearing the mess.’’

Simran added that Jalan Pudina, Jalan Rumpai, as well as the road in front of Bangsar Shopping Centre had been taken over by illegal hawkers.

Dr R. Narkunan concurred with Ali and Simran. Narkunan, who runs a clinic in Brickfields, said the situation was the same in Brickfields.

“Illegal stalls are mushrooming in every nook and cranny of this township, and no one is doing anything about it,’’ he said.

Narkunan challenged DBKL to clear up the illegal stalls that were scattered all over the area.

“Some of these stalls are blocking tactile blocks for the blind as well as alleys and walkways,’’ he added.

“It is good that DBKL is working hard to rid the city of illegal stalls and structures, but they also need to go after the big players who are clearly obstructing public walkways.’’

No one is above the law

Some residents who spoke to StarMetro on condition of anonymity, said DBKL officers whom they had lodged their complaints to had told them that they were under political pressure not to take action against the illegal hawkers.

“Some of the hawkers even showed letters from political parties when we approached them, saying that their stalls were operated by NGOs run by single mothers,’’ he said.

“If it is illegal, then it is illegal. You cannot have one rule for one person and a different rule for another,” said Jeyasree, a resident in Cheras.

“I am sorry for the lady who got caught in Cheras,’’ Jeyasree said in reference to the woman who had a tussle with DBKL officers.

“But no one is above the law, and having said that, DBKL must take action against all illegal stall operators,’’ she added.

Investigations by StarMetro revealed that the same situation was prevalent in Bukit Bintang, Sri Petaling and Taman Desa in Jalan Kelang Lama.

Illegal structures or stalls were spotted blocking parking bays and roads as well as alleys in Jalan Desa Jaya, Jalan Desa Utama and Jalan Desa Bakti in Taman Desa.

When we visited the area, half a dozen stall operators were selling fruits and tidbits.

Several new structures are also being built along the same stretch, making way for new stalls.

Related stories:

Stalls and vehicles delay drivers from carrying out their duties

How to identify an illegal stall

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