BUKIT MERTAJAM: With the population of foreign workers in Taman Nagasari growing larger than that of local residents, many houses have been illegally converted into sundry shops and eateries to cater to their needs.
A local resident, who declined to be named, said the back alleys were filled with garbage while food waste was thrown along the roads and in the playground.
“This neighbourhood is strategically located near the Penang Bridge and the Prai industrial area.
“I bought my house about 20 years ago, and Indonesian workers were the first to rent rooms here.
“Later, as local industries began hiring more foreigners, workers from Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh started to come in.
“Now, my neighbours are all foreigners. During weekends, they will eat and litter all over the place,” he said yesterday.
Another resident also claimed that many foreign workers had illegally erected bathing cubicles on the porch outside the house.
“This is to save time queuing up to shower, especially in the morning before they go to work.
“The cubicles are erected with zinc panels and covered with tarpaulin sheets,” she said.
A check in the area saw some houses with illegal extensions to create additional rooms.
The average monthly rental for a double-storey house is RM750.
Seberang Prai Municipal Council enforcement officers visited the area after receiving several complaints.
A total of 38 notices and nine compounds were issued to the occupants for various offences.
Council president Datuk Rozali Mohamud said two of the premises were found to be operated by locals.
“We told them to submit an application to us within 21 days for the conversion,” said Rozali.
Bangladeshi Md Abdul Kiyum, 41, who married a local here in 2002, was among those running an eatery there.
“I started my business five years ago, catering mostly to foreign workers.
“Business is good and I will comply with the regulations, provided the cost involved is not too high,” he said.
Councillor David Marshel proposed that the state come up with a new policy to allow better monitoring of foreigners.
“There are up to 40 people living in one house, and based on a recent survey we estimate that the dormitory being built by the state will not be able to house all these foreign workers,” he said.