From NST 20 Jan 2009, By K. Harinderan
A large number of electronic road signs installed under the city's Integrated Traffic Information System (ITIS) are spoilt. The number could be as high as 60 per cent of the 140 Variable Message Signs (VMS) installed to date, according to Segambut member of parliament Lim Lip Eng. The figure, however, is disputed by City Hall which said that only 30 per cent of the signs are not working. Lim said the spoilt signs were a waste of public funds as the material and installation cost for the VMS were more than RM67 million, which averaged out to about RM481,000 per sign. City Hall, he said, would have to spend another RM8 million over a period of two years to repair the spoilt signs and faulty closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) in the city. Lim said yesterday that a reply he received in parliament had stated that of 140 VMS installed in the city from 2007 to Oct 2008, 78 were not functioning. Lim, who feels that the cost was too high, said: "With this high fault rate over the last two years, why was ITIS not queried on the matter or had their contract terminated as they had failed to deliver?" The VMS units were installed to alleviate traffic congestion and display traffic information to road users, especially in areas with high traffic volume.
"Officials from the Transportation Department of City Hall had said that the problem was not due to any technical failure but was caused by thieves and road accidents. "I am curious to know how a vehicle can reach that height that it is able to damage a VMS?" said Lim, who also called on City Hall to be transparent and make public the actual amount invested in ITIS. Meanwhile, City Hall's director of Urban Transportation Leong Siew Mun said repairs were being carried out on the spoilt VMS. He blamed it on thieves who stole the copper wires leading to the communication cables. "The cables have been re-laid over the last few months and we have taken preventive measures to ensure that the problem does not occur again," added Leong.
Lim, together with 10 Pakatan Rakyat MPs whose constituencies fall within Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with KL mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail. The dialogue is expected to be held tomorrow. "We have to monitor the feasibility of the ITIS project as it involves public funds and all aspects of the contract must be fulfilled. "For this, we call on the mayor to allow us to go through the contract to allow us to have a better understanding of the details involved," said Lim.
Raising a stink over smart public toilets
The smart public toilets installed by City Hall is causing grief among some users, claimed Segambut member of parliament Lim Lip Eng. Lim said many had complained that the toilets were not user-friendly as it had a time limit and infringed on a user's privacy. "I have received complaints about the smart toilets, which cost RM500,000 each to install in 2006," said Lim, adding the project was given to a third party. To date, six of the 20 smart toilets have been installed by a private company which was given the contract by City Hall. The hi-tech, self-cleaning toilets are placed in busy areas including in Bukit Bintang, Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Raja Laut. The total allocation for the project is RM10 million. Users have to pay between 20 sen and RM1 depending on the duration they use the toilets which measure 2.25m by 5.25m, with a height of 3.25m.
These complaints will be among the issues Lim will be raising with mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail at a dialogue tomorrow in City Hall. He will be joined by nine other Pakatan Rakyat MPs. Lim had outlined 22 issues which he hoped to raise with the mayor. Among the issues is the award of parking contracts to four private companies which owe City Hall arrears amounting to RM7.5 million. Lim said the amount has been outstanding since 2004 and City Hall should have terminated the contracts and take legal action against them. He said City Hall had awarded a contract to keep the street pavements clean to a private company with a concession of more than 10 years. Lim claimed that the contract was not awarded through an open tender.
"We call on the mayor to follow the example of Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed by allowing the MPs to go through the contracts and awards. The implementation of the contract clauses have to be monitored and there should be more transparency." Other issues to be discussed include the status of the stop work order of the Damansara 21 project, illegal dumping and poor rubbish collection at many housing schemes in Segambut. Illegal telecom towers, soil erosion in Damansara Heights and the status of Bukit Kiara as a "green zone" are also among the issues to be discussed.