SOME 200 billboards have been erected illegally in various parts of Petaling Jaya in recent months and they are a cause for concern.
The illegal unipole billboards can be spotted mostly in business areas, road junctions and along busy roads.
Many of them are secured to the ground by large- or medium-sized poles.
Residents in the area claim that the larger billboards are usually constructed during the night and the whole installation process could take less than a week.
They also claim that construction takes place frequently during the public holiday period, possibly to avoid being nabbed by the authorities.
All-Petaling Jaya Residents Association Coalition (Apac) advisor Liew Wei Beng said he and other resident leaders had shared their views when the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) drafted the billboard guideline in 2009.
“To erect billboards, the operator would require the Temporary Occupancy Licence (TOL), depending on the location, from the relevant authorities.
“From what I have gathered, the Petaling Jaya mayors of both the past and present, have not given any approval since 2008,” he said.
Liew said this could have resulted in more illegal billboards being erected all over the city.
He claimed that he had lodged complaints on several billboards with MBPJ’s building department but that the billboards have not been removed.
“I noticed a new billboard had been set up at the traffic light junction of SS24/1 and SS23/17 in March.
“I lodged a complaint to the MBPJ building department but until today, the billboard is still there.
“The old billboards at this junction were also not removed.
“I am uncertain why MBPJ has not removed or prevented the structures from being erected,” he said.
The Istara Condo Management Corp chairman Swinder Singh said he was not able to determine if a billboard was illegally erected by looking at it.
Swinder said he was not against the placement of billboards in the city.
However, he urged the billboard operators to follow the guidelines set by the relevant authority.
“Outside my condo building in Jalan Utara, a portion of the land was cleared to construct a unipole billboard.
“We are not sure if this billboard is legal.
“A portion of the condo slope was also cut and the soil here is exposed.
“We are afraid this could lead to soil erosion.
“If the billboard is illegal, the council must penalise the culprit,” he said, adding that they hoped the council would help to patch the exposed area.
“The relevant parties should seek the consent of those occupying the surrounding buildings before such large billboards are erected.
“We are not sure of the manner the billboard was constructed and if it poses a risk to the public,” he said.
In Jalan Utara, three unipole billboards were constructed this year and another one is being set up by the entrance to the Asia Jaya MBPJ public carpark.
Deputy mayor Puasa Md Taib said he was furious and would take drastic measures against the offenders.
He said there were close to 200 newly constructed illegal billboards and the council was in the process of removing them.
Puasa said the council was waiting for the billboard TOL approval from the State.
“Since 2009, we have not issued any licences for the construction of new billboards in the city.
“It is up to the State to decide on matters pertaining to the TOL. Until then, we cannot issue any approval,” he said.
He added that many of the older billboards, placed in the city before 2008, had not been removed by the owners despite notices being issued by the council.
“This year, we did not issue an extension for the billboard licences of most of the existing billboards.
“This has resulted in a dip in council revenue,” he said.
Puasa said the newly constructed billboards would be torn down soon without prior notice.
“Why should we provide notice when the newly constructed billboards do not have permits in the first place?
“We might just sell the structures to the scrap metal dealers,” he said.
Puasa added that there were a number of newly-built billboards along the Petaling Jaya side of the Federal Highway and New Klang Valley Expressway.
“Some of the operators claim they have gotten the approval from the Malaysian Highway Authority but they must also get the approval from the local council involved,” he said.
There are also illegal billboards in Sunway, Damansara and SS2.
Puasa said the distance between billboards should be at least 300m.
He also said shoddily-built billboards posed a danger to the public.
“Safety is the most important factor here. I doubt the construction of these billboards were supervised by experts.
“What if they fall during a strong wind or because of soil erosion? The public and motorists’ lives are at risk,” he said.
After the March 8 election that changed the political landscape in Selangor, the newly elected MPs, assemblymen and councillors in Petaling Jaya were determined to put a stop to the placement of illegal billboards in the city.
Among the reasons cited were public safety, road and road signage obstruction.
Despite the council’s efforts to remove most of the billboards, more new billboards have cropped up.
It was reported in StarMetro in June 2010 that the council, on the state government’s instruction, had introduced a policy requiring outdoor advertisers to channel 30% of their gross revenue to the local authority.
It was meant to be a form of rental imposed on advertisers, who had been raking in profits by exploiting state land.
It had also been asserted that the monies would benefit the people, by sustaining the operations of the council that offered a 2% reduction in assessment for high-rise units in the draft MBPJ Budget 2009.