When we purchase a car, we are duly reminded of the importance of servicing the vehicle after completing the first 1,000km. The second service is due after completing the next 5,000km, following which the car has to be serviced every 10,000km.
This is to ensure the car is well maintained and can be driven problem-free.
Likewise, when a baby is born, there are several inoculations that the baby must endure to lead a safe and secure life. These two are simple examples to highlight the importance of maintenance.
Many of us are good at maintaining our cars and caring for our children. Sadly, the same does not apply to our public amenities and facilities, namely roads, bridges, parks, waste management, water, low-cost flats, shopping arcades, swimming pools and eateries.
Government buildings in Putrajaya and Jalan Duta may stand tall proudly but their staircases, lifts, toilets and waste management chambers are usually not in the best of condition.
You can go to any public park, even the beautiful KLCC Park beside the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, and be shocked at its lack of maintenance – you can see uncut branches and wilting leaves on dying trees, the dirty pond, littered grounds and overflowing waste bins.
The low-cost flats in places like Selayang, Cheras, Klang, Kepong and Bangsar are not pleasant to look at. The flats have never been repainted since the day they were built. The waste chambers are overflowing with unwanted mattresses and sofas.
Smelly elevators and faulty lights guide the residents to their units through dingy corridors and walkways. The grounds are laden with cat poop and litter and pieces of glass from broken windows. The grass is uncut, drains filthy and manholes uncovered. The air is filled with a pungent odour from broken toilets. Cars and motorcycles are parked everywhere, making it difficult to drive past the parking areas.
Hawker stalls have mushroomed in every corner, some abandoned or dysfunctional. The roads that lead to the flats are filled with potholes.
The playground at any township is another indicator of our poor maintenance standards. So much emphasis is placed on the welfare and safety of our children and yet they are left to play with dirty, rusty or broken swings, seesaws and slides. The grass is overgrown, which is an invitation to not only snakes but also mosquitoes and other insects. The fence surrounding the playground is either broken or missing.
This lack of maintenance is a fundamental issue in both the public and private sectors. The lack of planning or failure to allocate 10 percent of the building cost as maintenance cost is the main reason there are not enough funds to carry out maintenance.
How I wish KLIA’s elevators at the A, B and C parking bays are all functioning properly and how I wish the toilets near the car parks are well maintained to serve KLIA users.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government must tighten the laws and make it compulsory for all low-cost flat developers to allocate 10 percent of the building cost for maintenance. The local authorities, especially the Klang Municipal Council, Selayang Municipal Council and Hulu Langat Municipal Council, must seriously find ways and means to improve their image by resolving various issues pertaining to the maintenance of low-cost flats, waste management, potholes, overgrown grass, stray dogs, flooding and clogged drains.
If Malaysia wants to be placed amongst the best nations in this world, we must start from the smallest thing that we are doing. We must ensure the cleanliness of our school toilets and public lavatories regardless of which building or site they are in.
Even toilets in places of worship must be maintained well. We must make sure our roads are free of litter and potholes. Our low-cost flats must be clean and presentable. Our restaurants and hawker stalls must be organised and clean.
We cannot have a lazy mindset towards maintenance. Maintenance is not only critical for a car but is equally important for a growing nation like Malaysia.