By Haresh Deol
Nov 23, 2017
ALL it took was a series of tweets to get the attention of a member of parliament (MP).
The tweets that appeared on community Twitter account @1Ampang zoomed in on the poor road conditions following the on-going construction of the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang (SUKE) highway.
The Twitter profile states @1Ampang is not affiliated to any political party and that it brings latest news “by warga Ampang for warga Ampang”.
The series of tweets posted on Tuesday night read:
Tweet 1 – “Street lights not working along Jln Bukit Belacan. Potholes just before Q Thai. Don’t understand why motorists are subjected to such inconvenience. Why no action by local authorities, Adun/MP?”
Tweet 2 – “If similar conditions are seen in areas like Bangsar / Mont Kiara you would have seen major uproar. It seems those staying in Ampang are bullied to accept such conditions.”
Tweet 3 – “Traffic light at junction near Bandar Baru Ampang/Taman Kosas yet to be fixed by concerned party. Why? Need someone to die before things get fixed?”
Tweet 4 – “All we are asking for is to respect motorists, those living in Ampang. Is it too much to ask? @ybz99 @mp_ampangjaya BTW, the Adun for Lembah Jaya is no where in sight.”
For the record, @ybz99 is Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin’s twitter handle. @mp_ampangjaya is the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council’s twitter handle.
Tweet 5 – “There are sufficient bylaws, regulations, SOPs. But why aren’t they enforced? Because it is a Federal/State govt project? What makes them so superior?”
Tweet 6 – “Don’t expect us to be happy just by saying such projects are for the people, promising convenience. If they are for the convenience of the people, then it should be reflected from the beginning to the end.”
Tweet 7 – “Just because we don’t slam tables, get into heated arguments or take it to the streets does not mean we don’t know our rights/we are stupid. Respect us – those who have been living here for years, decades.”
And that opened the floodgates.
Many have been venting their frustration driving (or riding) in complete darkness on roads riddled with potholes since works started months ago. Some pointed out the construction of the East Klang Valley Expressway in Hulu Langat, Ampang and Ukay Perdana has also contributed to the poor road conditions.
Twitter user @RaymondHooYW, had on Sept 11, asked why SUKE Highway works were being carried out at night.
There were others who pointed out the uncovered barriers filled with water are potential breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes.
SUKE Expressway, through its Twitter account (@mySUKEofficial), has been replying to several queries raised by residents.
In a reply to @shahindra_kumar days ago, the highway operator said the traffic lights at the junction near Ampang Waterfront were not working as “Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s feeder pillar was faulty and the power supply was disconnected.”
But @shahindra_kumar’s reply left me in stitches. He tweeted: “4 hari dah, still tak repair lagi. TNB datang dari Zimbabwe ke? Lamanya nak repair!”
Following the series of tweets, Zuraida stepped in and replied @1Ampang’s first tweet. She tweeted: “Insyallah, will follow up asap.”
The Ampang MP later tweeted: “The streets concern(ed) is under JKR (Public Works Department) Federal Authority (.) Insyaallah will see minister in Parliament today (Wednesday).”
Hours later, Zuraida tweeted a picture of a white envelope addressed to Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and said: “Surat kpd Menteri mengenai lampu jln di Waterfont [Letter to the minister regarding (traffic/street) light at (Ampang) Waterfront].”
The potholes near Q Thai restaurant as mentioned in the first tweet, had been repaired, according to @1Ampang yesterday.
SUKE Highway concessionaire Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas) has held several engagement sessions with the communities affected by the construction of the highway. Residents have been assured the works beside their homes will not disrupt their daily lives.
But in April, those living in Taman Bukit Teratai, Ampang were left traumatised after muddy water and soil gushed into their homes following a downpour.
More neighbourhoods are now seeing construction taking place in front of their doorsteps. They are left with no choice but to bear with the messy situation.
A drive along Jalan Bukit Belacan, Jalan Taman Putra and behind Ampang Point is stressful due to many ongoing road works, made worse with the ugly sights of hills being cleared.
It is impossible to walk, let alone cross these roads.
It is a nightmare driving, riding or walking in these areas at night or when it rains.
I’m sure Prolintas chairman Datin Jamiah Abdul Hamid or chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Azlan Abdullah would not like to experience the same messy conditions in front of their doorsteps.
While there are those living in these areas who adopt a “tidak apa” attitude over their surroundings, it is refreshing to see the people behind @1Ampang speaking on behalf of those who actually care.
Some say Zuraida deserves a pat on her back for responding quickly to the matter.
But here’s the thing – must issues like these be raised on social media before action is taken?
Isn’t it the task of Lembah Jaya assemblyman Khassim Abdul Aziz to help address the woes raised? Shouldn’t the Yang Berhormat and other so-called representatives of the people be more mindful of what is happening in their constituency?
Shouldn’t the local council scrutinise the works carried out to ensure they cause minimal disruption to their stakeholders – the tax-paying residents and business owners?
But it took a community Twitter account to show the local leaders how to address issues and help people.
If everyone played their part, life could be a whole lot less stressful – especially for those living in Ampang.
Caption: Traffic has been diverted and barriers placed as traffic lights at the junction near Ampang Waterfront have yet to be fixed as seen in this picture tweeted by @1Ampang on Thursday (Nov 23).
Multi-award winning journalist Haresh Deol spent close to two decades in the newsroom. He last served as executive editor of Malay Mail. He is now a media and communications strategist. Haresh can be reached on Twitter (@HareshDeol) or via email: [email protected]