Monday, February 21, 2011

Bad roads and potholes are the bane of road-users

Less than perfect: Jalan Duta Kiara in Mont Kiara recently went through some roadwork but the bad patchwork has led to an uneven road.

Source: (Story and photos by FAZLEENA AZIZ and PRIYA MENON, 21/2/2011)
Almost everyone has a story to tell when it comes to the bad road conditions and potholes in the Klang Valley. Often drivers are caught by surprise as their tyres plunge into a pothole or when a smooth ride turns bumpy as they cruise along city roads. One of the notorious spots is Jalan Ampang, which is marred by uneven patch-up work and potholes. Adding to the problem are ongoing construction projects along the stretch, which brings heavy vehicles to one of the busiest roads in Kuala Lumpur. Other areas such as Ampang, Petaling Jaya, Sentul and Bangsar also have roads that need to be resurfaced and repaired due to the deteriorating conditions. Some are caused by utility companies that do no carry out proper resurfacing work after digging up the roads for repair works. Most councils require a deposit from companies before they are allowed to carry out any roadwork. If the council finds the resurfacing job has not been done properly, resulting in sedimentation on the road, the deposit is then forfeited. It has been reported that RM500,000 per kilometre is needed to carry out road resurfacing.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said the two causes for the bad road conditions in the Klang Valley were the old method of patching the holes as well as underground water leakage. “There are also contractors who take the easy way out to save money,” he said. However, there is not enough enforcement to check on the quality of roadworks. In his constituency alone, there are holes from digging work that have been left as they are for months, especially in Segambut Dalam, Mont Kiara and Hartamas.

Retiree Tan Lim Beng said the condition of roads were really bad, especially near his house in Cheras. “The roads have been in a bad condition for years and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is not pro-active in solving the issue,” he said. He said on a previous occasion, it was only after he complained to a newspaper about a pothole that DBKL called him to get details of the location and repaired it. He said the various local councils ought to have a special team to monitor and check on the condition of roads in the city and get potholes patched up before the public complained. Fruit and drink seller Mohd Johari Abdullah, 27 feels the authorities needed to do a better job of maintaining the roads in the city. He said the bad condition of roads added to the problem of traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur. “It is worse when it rains because motorists are not aware of deep potholes when they are filled with water. They are dangerous especially for motorcyclists and people driving small cars,” he said. “Potholes and bad road surfaces seem to be a national problem; my friends in Penang have also complained about them,” he added. Mohd Johari also complained that it was bad for his business when companies dug up roads, kicking up dust, and after that failing to resurface the road properly, leaving an uneven road that might cause injuries to pedestrians.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said 80% of the potholes and uneven roads were caused by utilities and telecommunication companies digging up the roads to install and repair their cables. He said there were so many of such roadworks that it had become an embarrassment to DBKL because the blame was often laid at its door. “The utility companies do not do a proper job of resurfacing and sometimes they do not even ask for our permission before digging up the road. “Most of the time they do the work at night and rush to get it done by morning, so there isn’t enough time to do a thorough job,” he said. Other causes are cement mixers and heavy vehicles from cement plants and construction sites. Construction companies are required to place sturdy bricks on the road to protect it from the wear and tear brought on by the heavy vehicles but some do not ensure this step is done properly. Meanwhile, cement mixers drop blobs of cement on the road, which result in a bumpy ride for other road users and may be a potential road hazard. Fuad said DBKL might have to resort to drastic measures to stem the problem of potholes and uneven roads. “We may have to change the materials used to resurface the road, this may increase the cost by 20% or 30% but we will get better results like Singapore,” he said.

He said the local authority might also revise the charges imposed on errant contractors to ensure future jobs were well done. He added another long-term solution would be to have common trenching that allowed all companies to begin work at a special designated area. Fuad explained there were three types of contractors in charge of fixing potholes. The first are contractors hired through open tenders for long distances of 5km or more. Smaller companies are selected through a ballot system to repair potholes outside the city centre, while DBKL resurfaced roads that did not fall into either category.

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