Scene of devastation: One of the three damaged units that were hit by the fire.
By Christina Low, The Star
IT WAS a near miss that residents of the Amandari Condominium at Segambut in Kuala Lumpur will not forget easily, and they are now living in fear of a fire outbreak. Lightning struck three units recently, causing a fire and the residents now feel jittery each time there is a thunderstorm and flashes of lightning in the sky.But the real risk during the fire last week was when the firemen arrived and had a hard time driving the fire engine through the condominium’s main entrance. Precious time was wasted as the fire engine had to squeeze through the gate. The residents want the developer to ensure that the two condominium blocks are safe, particularly with arrester rods in working condition and ensuring the easy accessibility of rescue vehicles such as fire engines. The residents raised the issue at a meeting with Azmal Shah, an official of the developer Sheyher Develop-ment Sdn Bhd. The meeting was arranged by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.
On the fateful day when the fire broke out, neighbouring residents who heard the loud bang rushed out of their homes but did not realise that a fire had broken out. According to resident K.P. Tiam, it was the foreign workers from the construction site opposite the condominium who saw the fire and alerted them by shouting. Tiam said the residents then called the fire and rescue services department which promptly sent a fire fighting team in a fire engine, but they had a hard time struggling to get past the narrow main entrance. “Much precious time was wasted as the fire engine had to squeeze its way through the gate,” he said. “The condominium developer should do something about the entrance and exit points because during an emergency, getting to the problem area fast is essential to protect life and property,” Tiam said. In addition to the lightning and fire risk, residents of the four-year old condominium also have a bagful of complaints to highlight. “We have been suffering from water leakages and our walls are cracking.” said Ng Yee Kim, 28. Ng said she had been diligently paying her maintenance fees, but when she lodged a complaint on her unit with the developer, the company just ignored her. “I keep reminding the company about the problem but no action has been taken to rectify the situation,” said Ng, who then decided to stop paying her maintenance fees from January this year.
According to Azmal, the residents of the two blocks owed the company more than RM240,000 in maintenance fees. “Sometimes, we manage to collect about 50% of the maintenance fees from the 88 units, but there are times when we only have about 30% to 40%,” Azmal said. He blamed the residents for not taking the initiative to attend meetings organised by the developer, saying that usually only about 20% of them were present. Azmal said some units had gone through various renovations and rectifications which might be the cause of the leaking problem and other defects, but a thorough check had to be conducted. Asked about the fire incident, Azmal said the company was still waiting for the full report from the fire and rescue services department which would take about two weeks. He also said if the residents were not satisfied with the developer, they should perhaps ask the housing tribunal to mediate on the matter.
Meanwhile, Lim said he had discussed the matter with the developer last year when he visited the area but the situation had not changed much since then. Lim said he understood that the developer needed to collect at least 70% of maintenance fees monthly for works on the building, but he did not blame the residents for not wanting to pay as their complaints were not attended to. “I have discussed with the developer urging the company to rectify certain parts of the condominium first to let the residents know that there is value for their money,” he said. “Once residents see that things are being done, I am sure they will pay their fees,” Lim said. Lim said he would wait for the report from the fire and rescue service department to discover the cause of the incident, especially with regard to the safety of the two blocks.