Old cars taking up precious space

Left to rot: Residents looking at an abandoned car parked in a public area in Ayer Itam. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: There’s something else taking up space on this tiny island, much to the displeasure of residents.

Abandoned cars have become junks, occupying precious space, besides becoming an eyesore and breeding ground for rats and mosquitoes.

A check with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) showed that up to 459 cars had be towed since last year.

These vehicles can be found in many locations, including roadsides, housing areas, carparks and even at a playground in Kampung Melayu.

Kampung Melayu resident association chairman Yaacob Abu Bakar said the cars do not belong to anyone from the neighbourhood.

“There was a car workshop here but they stopped operating about five years ago. I believe some of the cars belonged to its customers living elsewhere.

“They probably abandoned their cars because they were unwilling to pay for the repairs, ” he said.

Furthermore, he said most of them were old continental cars that were probably not worth repairing because the spare parts may cost more than the value of the car itself.

Many of these vehicles are in deplorable condition such as with punctured or missing tyres, shattered windscreens and broken doors. The number plates are usually missing and the road tax has long expired.

Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng said members of the Village Community Management Council had found almost 80 cars abandoned in his constituency since 2018.

“We reported it to MBPP and notices were later issued to the owners to remove their vehicles but to no avail.

“The council can only impound and tow away the cars if the road tax had expired.

“So far, the council has removed about half of the vehicles in public areas but they could not take action against those that were abandoned on private land as it has no jurisdiction, ” he said.

Ng said abandoned cars not only deprive others from having parking space but they could also become a mosquito breeding ground.

Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong is also facing the same problem in his constituency.

“After we discovered 76 abandoned cars, we issued notices and tried to track down the owners.

“Some owners asked for more time to move or sell their cars.

“Others say due to poor resale value, they are keeping their cars as a backup.

“In three operations conducted by MBPP, all the cars in wrecked condition were towed away while the rest were removed by their owners.

“I hope car owners would be more responsible by selling off their old vehicles instead of abandoning them in public spaces which could cause inconvenience to others.

“If you don’t want to sell it off, please find a place to keep it. Don’t park them in a public area, ” Ong said, adding that his next target is to remove 20 abandoned cars near West Jelutong.

MBPP enforcement unit director Azman Sirun said last year alone, the council issued 229 notices to car owners.

“We towed away 218 cars while 11 owners came to reclaim their vehicles.

“Up to October this year, after issuing 260 notices, 19 owners came to reclaim their old cars. We towed away 241 of them while another 111 were auctioned off, ” he said.

Azman said they would charge RM150 for towing away cars, including those violating traffic rules, and an additional RM10 daily for storage.

“We believe the increasing number of abandoned cars is due to a lack of public awareness on how to properly dispose of their old vehicles.

“Among the initiatives taken to tackle the issue is by providing education and to create a database to link them, ” said Azman.

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