Spot checks by Johor MB producing desired results


Onn Hafiz (second from left) checking on the condition of a road.

Council heads and state directors should follow Onn Hafiz’s lead by inspecting maintenance of infrastructure and public amenities

WHEN Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi took office in March this year, he started carrying out spot checks along major roads in Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Kulai and other areas to find out about the problems faced by the rakyat.

He also carried out checks at Johor Baru’s general hospital (Hospital Sultanah Aminah) which had bad road problems, and inspected the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex which was plagued with various issues such as faulty lifts, escalators and autogates.

All these are public amenities used by thousands of people daily.

Onn Hafiz was praised on social media as no other mentri besar had taken such drastic action in recent years to address the people’s woes.

One burning question on everyone’s mind though: why did the Mentri Besar have to go to the ground in the wee hours of the day to look into infrastructure and amenities issues affecting the rakyat?

What has happened to the local authorities or concessionaires tasked with maintaining public roads and amenities?

Each year, Johor is allocated hundreds of millions of ringgit for road projects along with a huge sum to maintain public amenities.

Are these funds being put to good use? Who oversees this and are there proper checks and balances in the process?

During my recent exclusive interview with Onn Hafiz at his office in Kota Iskandar, he said that his actions were not to punish or blame anyone.

He seemed rather upbeat because ever since he started carrying out such checks, agency directors had followed suit especially concerning public transport.

Spot checks are a step in the right direction but getting everyone on board, especially all 16 local councils, road concessionaires and the Johor Civil Service, is no easy task.

This will require a serious mindset change among civil servants. It needs to be a joint effort if this is going to succeed in the long term.

When I was first posted to Johor Baru many years ago, some of my friends teased me, saying that the city was known as jalan berlubang (roads riddled with potholes).

Over the years, much has improved in terms of road condition but more needs to be done, especially with regard to improving and upgrading Johor’s infrastructure.

There are still many stretches of roads around Iskandar Puteri, Johor Baru, Jalan Tebrau, Jalan Skudai and Pasir Gudang, that are in of need proper lighting at night.

Many light bulbs have to be replaced too as they are not functioning or merely flicker at night.

The annual monsoon season is around the corner and besides causing hardship to thousands of people in many low-lying areas statewide, floodwaters are notorious for causing widespread damage to infrastructure projects mainly roads and bridges.

Potholes have started reemerging along some of major roads which were patched up in the past few months.

The time has come for the state government to come down hard on those using sub-standard materials or carrying out shoddy maintenance work, as it is the people who are at the receiving end.

The state should not be afraid to terminate such contractors or even lodge reports with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on possible corrupt practices.

All local councils and concessionaires should also be directed to carry out daily patrols to ensure potholes are immediately patched up as they pose danger to road users especially motorcyclists during downpours.

With the number of requests for spot checks – especially on badly-maintained roads – increasing on his Facebook page, I am sure our Mentri Besar will need to allocate time for this in the coming weeks.

The writer welcomes feedback via nelson@thestar.com.my

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