So what comes to mind when you think of Ampang?
Bad traffic, potholes, haphazard development and water cuts.
Ampang has several positives – it’s quite close to nature (although that too is being robbed by the second these days), it’s a large township near the Golden Triangle and is blessed with good food.
The township has a rich history, evident during the tin mining era in the 1900s followed by the rubber industry. It still houses a large number of embassies and high commissions.
The row of shophouses at Pekan Ampang have withstood the test of time. If the walls could speak, they would be able to share tales of yesteryear.
Fast forward to 2020, residents will tell you that they are tired of the constant woes that plague the township. So tired that some of them are resigned to living in such ‘third world’ conditions.
An exaggeration? In fact, these problems far from highlight the sentiments of residents. It’s bad. Really bad.
Ampang folk have been boiling over the past two days because the taps have run dry.
Today it is bound to worsen with the latest announcement by Air Selangor of more broken pipes affecting a whole lot of areas – from Taman Sri Ukay to Kampung Tasik Permai. Reason for the burst pipes – unknown.
Air Selangor, or formerly known as Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), has been battling to repair old pipes for years but there have also been instances in Ampang where construction work has damaged the pipes. Either way, it is the consumers who suffer.
The water cuts in Ampang have been rampant in recent years.
The water utility company has been slammed for its inaction and slow response in meeting the residents’ demands, as reflected in the series of tweets and retweets seen on @1Ampang. Consumers in certain areas claim there has not been a water tanker in sight.
The water cuts have also caused businesses and food stalls to close. And the timing could not come at a worse time as Chap Goh Mei will be celebrated tomorrow.
Residents should be well-informed and are expected to download a mobile application. There are those in Ampang who only use their phones to make a call, send an SMS and perhaps stream a television series. The ignorance of a consumer cannot be turned into an excuse for it is the consumer who is forking out the money for a service and not the other way around.
Elina A, from Ampang Jaya, had in her letter published in the New Straits Times last month, raised concerns about the poor road conditions, numerous potholes and stretches of street lights and traffic lights that have malfunctioned.
Elina asked: “What is the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council doing? Where is our tax money going to? Where is the wakil rakyat? Are our Members of Parliament speaking up on such public concerns?”
Rubbish is often seen in areas like Taman Watan, Bandar Baru Ampang, Pandan Indah, Taman Kosas and Lembah Jaya.
The haphazard development is mind-boggling. The manner in which several expressway projects are being managed has residents wondering if their concerns and safety have ever been considered.
Just walk along the massive construction surrounding the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Expressway (SUKE) and East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) and there are no designated pedestrian walkways while the roads are bad.
Despite the existing highways in Ampang (Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway, Sungai Besi Expressway, Middle Ring Road 2) traffic remains the number one problem.
There seems to be no attempt by the powers that be to reduce the number of vehicles and to improve the public transportation network. As such, building even 10 more expressways will not help solve traffic woes as these highways seem to be short-term solutions that will mainly benefit the operators.
Just scroll through Twitter and read the tweets by @1Ampang highlighting the many woes caused by such construction work. And it’s surprising that action seems to only be taken when a matter is highlighted on social media. Perhaps, those responsible believe ‘no news is good news’.
And the local council – the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council – does not seem to be proactive in handling such concerns. Many wonder why the council is keeping mum.
Ironically, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who happens to be Ampang MP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president, said Ampang could be declared a city this year.
Some have taken Zuraida to task. She is already facing battles within PKR and taken leave from all posts in the party following a disciplinary case. She is also facing slander action by PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary, Farhash Wafa Salvador.
The water cuts in Ampang now present another headache for Zuraida, although to be fair it is beyond Zuraida’s control.
She, however, has the ability to keep the other matters (eg. poor roads and haphazard development) in check.
Such woes are not politically motivated – it is just something that has been taken for granted over the years and people are getting fed-up.
The welfare of those who elected her should be Zuraida’s priority for they will determine her tenure in Parliament.
Ampang is an unpolished gem.
However, the needs and welfare of its people must be protected. The ‘silence is golden’ rule is not acceptable. The attitude of ‘ignore and pretend nothing is wrong’ will only anger the people.
The previous administration learnt it the hard way as reflected in the 2018 general election. It’s time for the decision makers – government agencies, utilities and even contractors – to face the realities and solve problems or be the held responsible for Ampang’s downfall.