I WAS shocked when I learnt that there was yet another tragedy that took place at the People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats in Kota Damansara where a five-year-old boy fell to his death from the sixth floor through a broken railing along the corridor.
This is not the first time this has happened. There was a similar incident about two years ago when another five-year-old child fell to his death from the 14th floor, also through a broken railing.
I am very disturbed that even after the loss of a life in 2013, the lesson was not learnt and action to ensure the safety of the residents living there were not given priority.
Who should take responsibility for these two lives? Many of us will point fingers at the parents for neglecting their children, allowing them to wander and play along the corridors of the flats and not keeping an eye on them.
While the parents should bear some responsibility, I believe it is unfair to say that they are fully responsible.
Who then is responsible? We are not here to play the blame game.
What is more important is to find out how we can resolve this problem and avoid a third life being lost.
We need to take a step back to see the root cause of the problem. Were the parents at fault for assuming that the corridors in front of their home was safe to play and the railings would not give way? Certainly not!
If I was staying there, I would also assume that the railings are safe and secure and that I wouldn’t fall when I leaned against it.
So, why did the railings give way and why was it not repaired immediately? Should the management of the PPR flats be held responsible for this? Yes, to a certain degree.
The management is responsible for maintaining and repairing the facilities of the entire PPR blocks but they are always lacking in funds because they are not able to collect enough from the residents.
Should the residents be blamed? The residents of these flats are mostly people living under the poverty line, struggling to put food on the table for their families, what more to pay for rent and maintenance of the buildings.
How can we blame them when the authorities took over their homes and land to develop into million-ringgit bungalows while they were relocated to high-density flats like the PPR flats.
While the parents and both the management and residents of the flats have some responsibility, we should not stop there.
We should take another step back and trace the source of the problem.
Who built these PPR’s? Who were the developers and who awarded these projects?
Did these developers meet the safety standards and provide a quality end-product? Why would these railing give way so easily, causing the deaths of the two five-year olds?
The developer who designed and built this PPR has to take responsibility for what happened. The developer should not be let off the hook so easily and there should be a thorough investigation.
However, the first step to prevent further accidents would be to bring the developer in to repair and reconstruct all the railings in the PPR flats.
The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry should step in to ensure the safety of all the PPR flats around the country. It should assess the safety of the flats to ensure that there is no repeat of such a tragedy.