Create integrated hotline system to tackle issues of potholes

KUALA LUMPUR: Fixing pothole-riddled roads has been a never-ending battle, mostly due to the lack of coordination in handling the complaints, according to experts.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Institute of Infrastructure Engineering and Sustainable Management (IIESM) deputy director Prof Ir Dr Ahmad Kamil Arshad said an integrated hotline system involving all road owners is one of the best steps that can be used to coordinate the complaints on damaged roads or potholes so that the problems could be tackled as soon as possible.

“Those who maintain a road usually know that it is under their responsibility, but many road users do not know how to channel their complaints and they will blame only one party, so the expected response to their complaints may be delayed or may not be forthcoming,” he told Bernama.

While road maintenance is under the purview of the Public Works Department (JKR), he said most roads in the country, including municipal roads, are owned by other agencies, such as the local authorities.

“I think JKR or highway concessionaires do not have too many problems in the maintenance of roads or highways as they have well-trained personnel and their road surveillance is periodic, but it is not the case for local authorities that do not have a response team to handle the complaints and initiate actions to repair the damaged road.

“So, it is only right for each local authority to have a response team with well-trained members to ensure that road maintenance work could be carried out at an optimum level effectively to prevent recurrence of the potholes,” he told Bernama.

Ahmad Kamil said besides the “old road” factor, high traffic density and heavy vehicles, potholes continue to riddle most roads in the country roads as there was a lack of supervision from the entrusted authorities.

He also called on utility providers, including water management to carry out an early risk assessment in areas with old pipelines that needed replacement so as to prevent leaking that would affect road surface and structure.

“Some potholes are caused by stagnant water which softens the underlying soil and road surface. Although the road paving process uses quality materials, if other causes are not addressed, road damage will still occur,” he said.

Sharing his view was the Professor in Transport Engineering Datuk Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) who said that the fact that there was no clear indication of road ownership had also deterred road maintenance issues from being solved effectively.

He said the marking for road ownership was only done on highways but on other roads, it was unclear and confusing on which party should be held accountable.

“An integrated hotline complaint system can be used by also displaying road owner information as in the Waze application. By revealing the identity of the road owner, attention can be given to the accountability of the relevant parties,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement to Bernama, JKR said apart from the ‘‘Aku Janji Zero Potholes” campaign, it had also introduced a new set of standard operating procedures (SOP) for utility providers to achieve a more comprehensive mitigation method to repair damaged structures due to utility work along the road under the department’s supervision.

JKR also said that it is collaborating with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to develop a weigh-in-motion (WiM) system to record and detect vehicles carrying an excessive load while passing through the measurement location.

“The system can help JKR and JPJ obtain data related to over-loaded vehicles that can affect the condition of roads under its supervision,” the statement said.

Regarding the pavement specifications for a road, JKR said it was based on the ‘Standard Specification For Road Works Section 4: Flexible Pavement’ which is the latest specification and in line with international standards such as AASHTO, Australian Standard and British Standard, adapted to the local environment.

Meanwhile, founder of Ikatan Silaturrahim Lando Brotherhood, Azlan Sani Zawawi, which had been carrying out voluntary road repair work since 2007, called on local authorities to use high-quality cold mix bitumen to repair damaged roads including potholes.

He said the use of pavement material containing high-quality cold mix bitumen was more practical than that of the commonly used hot mix which is time-consuming as it requires heavy machinery to cut the road before it could be cleaned and re-paved.

“However, with the cold mix method, potholes could be fixed quickly just by using hand compactor and it can be quite cost-saving too depending on the level of the damage,” he added. – Bernama