DESPITE being Selangor’s royal town, Klang’s cleanliness and its outlook is far from satisfactory or pleasant.Taking a drive around town will reveal poor infrastructure along the roads, shoddy or incomplete work done by contractors, broken drains, unclean roads and even uncut grass.With even the most basic services such as cleanliness and proper infrastructure not met, residents in Klang are getting fed up.They are questioning what the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) is doing to make things better.The council, on the other hand, said rubbish collection and cleaning up the town and residential areas were now under the jurisdiction of KDEB Waste Management Sdn Bhd.KDEB says it is doing its best, but the people are not cooperating.However, Klang MP Charles Santiago has asked MPK to take charge and do something, and fast, as he has received far too many complaints from residents about cleanliness, poor infrastructure and shoddy work by contractors.

A monsoon drains filled with trash. This is a common sight in Klang.
A monsoon drains filled with trash. This is a common sight in Klang.“Too many that I just cannot sit and do nothing.“At the end of the day, a government’s performance is realised at the most basic of levels, which is the council and its services,” he said.Santiago added that infrastructure and cleanliness was the most basic service, and a council should excel in providing this, improving over the years.Sadly, the conditions in Klang have turned from bad to worse over the past years and word around town is that it is due to improper awarding of contracts.

“There is talk among residents that leads me to have the suspicion that a majority of the contracts are being awarded to one or two same persons, who seem to have a close relationship with a senior high- ranking officer in MPK,” said Santiago.He added that residents in different neighbourhoods have noticed that all workers were engaged by one contractor.For example, a worker fixing a broken drain along the road will also be collecting rubbish.Shoddy work is also due to the main contractors not paying workers their salary even after MPK paid up their dues, added Santiago.

Improvement proposals

Santiago is calling for the restructuring of MPK and the way contracts are awarded.“The source of anger among the people is poor services that are comparable to that of third world countries,” he said.He added that local councils have to be more transparent and show open tenders clearly on their website, and they must be accessible to the public at all times.The information on the website must also come complete with details of all tender applicants, such as the company name and full details, contractor’s name, IC number and justify awarding a contractor the tender.Santiago says MPK should take charge and do something fast.“If a certain company is found to be an empty shell, then it should be immediately blacklisted for five years or more.“If awarded and not performing, the contractor should be blacklisted immediately,” he said.To enable this, Santiago proposes four changes in MPK.

The first is to have an integrity plan and a third party integrity person appointed to oversee the tender process.This integrity plan will not only see the tender process being more transparent and accessible to the public, but will also involve residents to monitor work carried out.“In fact, I have sent a letter to the MPK president regarding this, and am waiting for a response,” he said.The second proposal is for MPK to come out with an accountability plan for rubbish maintenance, cleanliness or infrastructure works, for example.“MPK will have to produce a plan and tell residents about the improvements that will be done in Klang for the years ahead,” he said.

Rubbish from the market in Taman Klang Jaya is dumped at every corner, even in the back lanes of the neighbourhood.
Rubbish from the market in Taman Klang Jaya is dumped at every corner, even in the back lanes of the neighbourhood.The third is for resident representatives, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and professionals to be involved in planning and discussing over contracts awarded.

These group of people will be the eyes and ears of MPK to monitor works of the contractors in their respective neighbourhoods.Lastly, Santiago is calling on the state government to have a reshuffle of all department heads and senior-ranking officers in MP.“The officers who have been there for too long should be moved, and I hope more structural changes are brought on because whatever is going on in MPK now is no longer working,” he said.

Santiago said the residents’ anger is at its peak and was visible during his many Chinese New Year walkabout sessions where comments and responses were nasty and overwhelming.He added that the number of contracts awarded to the same person has to stop, and this policy should be implemented in all local councils in the state.If MPK does not respond to these proposed changes, Santiago will bring this up with the state and Mentri Besar.

Residents’ feedback

Resident Mohamed Hussain Mohd Maideen said although there was implementation by MPK, enforcement was lacking and there was no planning, no communication with residents and a lack of responsibility by MPK, adding that the standard operating procedures were not followed in an appropriate manner.He questioned why heads of department in MPK were not transferred out despite the poor services and performances over the years.Taman Chi Liung resident association chairman Ng Kian Leong feels that MPK should improve its services and work closely with residents.“Many issues in my 30-year-old neighbourhood have not been addressed such as unrepaired broken drains resulting in poor water flow,” he said.Ng added that there were also insufficient workers stationed at neighbourhoods to carry out daily cleaning works.

For example, there were only three cleaners and one rubbish collector to service the entire neighbourhood consisting of 700 houses and 100 shops.Taman Klang Jaya residents association chairman S. Tilaka said she called MPK complaining about their dirty playground.“When I complained to the MPK officer in charge, he told me the contractor has more than 30 parks to clean.“So the question is, why give one contractor so many parks to handle when clearly they cannot handle so many,” she said.

The park, she added, was used daily and its cleanliness was a basic requirement.“When I confronted the contractor about broken drains, he told me that he only handles one stretch of the drain and the other is by another contractor so it was out of his scope. The same goes for grass-cutting,” she said.She hopes that MPK will involve residents when giving out contracts so that they are aware who the contractors are, and can be the council’s eyes and ears in monitoring works done.

MPK’s response

MPK deputy president Adi Faizal Ahmad Tarmizi said rubbish collection, cleaning works and cutting of grass were under the purview of KDEB Waste Management Sdn Bhd.“To date, we have issued notices and warning letters to KDEB contractors who fail to perform and we are always monitoring the work given to them,” he said.Adi Faizal says warning letters have been issued to KDEB contractors.A KDEB spokesman said it was already doing its best to keep to the cleaning and maintenance schedule, but there are many irresponsible people who dump both domestic and bulk waste everywhere, especially at commercial areas and back lanes.“As for cleaning of drains and cutting of grass, we are trying our best to keep to the schedule and allocate sufficient workers, but we are also facing cost restrictions,” he said, adding that not all drains are under its purview.