Band of brothers keep roads safe

PETALING JAYA: It’s past midnight, and while most Malaysians are fast asleep, a group of ordinary citizens are busy patching up potholes on public roads.

Called Ikatan Silaturahim Brotherhood, the grassroots group established in 2007 by actor Azlan Sani Zawawi, who is better known as Lando Zawawi, fixes potholes and helps raise awareness about road maintenance issues.

“We are here for one thing: To make sure the roads are safer. I’m a taxpayer, these guys are taxpayers, we don’t need to do this.

“We can go home and sleep now, but yet we still have to do it because a lot of people die from pothole accidents. That’s why we are here, and we don’t expect anything in return, ” said Lando, 46, in an exclusive interview with The Star during one of his recent public service outings in the Klang Valley.

The repairs are done by volunteers almost every night in various states using cold mix asphalt and bitumen membranes. And they use their own tools.

Funds for these repair works come from their own pocket, as well as from the sale of Brotherhood merchandise, with Lando saying a big hole could cost them as much as RM100 to fix.

Potholes have become a talking point in recent weeks after Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin hit a pothole and crashed during a cycling trip in Banting last month.

In a mere five hours, the Kuala Langat Public Works Department issued an apology after Khairy tweeted about the incident.

The Brotherhood, with 54 teams nationwide, claims a membership of around 10,500, with some of the volunteers being victims of pothole-related accidents themselves.

“I was the victim of a road accident nearly 10 years ago. I was hit by a car while it tried to avoid a pothole, ” said Muhammad Azizi Abdul Manab, 31, who is a volunteer with a prosthetic leg.

“I lost my leg as a result of the accident. I joined The Brotherhood because I want to help road users who do not know how the system works.

“I want authorities to pay attention to this issue so that no one else will share the same fate as mine.”

Lando claims the group has patched “thousands” of potholes since its inception, and hoped their work will push authorities to be more efficient.

“Sometimes, I don’t get a good rest because every day, I get five to 10 reports of road hazards, (such as) people falling off their bikes, accidents, etc.

“So I really hope the authorities realise this and take some kind of action. I can’t do this forever, ” he said, adding that Malaysians should also lodge written complaints, and not just verbal ones, with the authorities.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said his ministry acknowledged the contribution of Lando and his team, and appreciated what they were doing to keep the roads safe.

Selangor police said a total of 223 accidents caused by various road issues, including potholes and cracks due to construction, were recorded in Selangor from 2018 until 2020.

Last week, at least two people died in road accidents after their motorcycles hit potholes.

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