Sunday, September 20

Of buses, bright lights, bad driving, littering and other gripes


It’s been 15 months and 66 articles of weekly Saturday columns since I had first started writing here for The Borneo Post on July 7, 2018. Inevitably I have received many comments, feedback, suggestions and ideas from my readers as to what I should write about next.

The suggestions and ideas range from the expected political issues (write about the unfulfilled Election Manifesto and many promises; condemn those ‘frogs’ who jump parties, etc) to the more localised issues of bad town planning, horrendous areas where traffic jams occur all the time; to more personal issues like why the authorities have not done this or that in certain residential areas; or how commercial businesses have crept into private housing estates.

Many gripes too about the rising cost of living, of how vendors, merchants and the hawker stalls have erratically and unreasonably kept upping their prices for their bowls of laksa, kolo mee or kopi o.

As to be expected these form part of the 98 per cent of the complaints and feedback. Less than two per cent actually were thankful or grateful for something or someone good that had happened to them; or they had wished to convey gratitude or thanksgiving to a body, human or otherwise.

A regular reader who stays at Jalan Mendu has asked me to write about the deteriorating state of affairs affecting our public buses – and that there are simply none or very few which seems to ply along his neighbourhood! He wondered what has happened to our public transport system, so often talked about, many promises been made, but nothing efficient nor sufficient has ever materialised. I too am in the dark and seek for answers from the authorities and those who might be in a better position to respond and able to give us some truthful response kindly do so.

Many of the requests for me to write articles about cannot warrant a full 1,000 word article, so I am responding right now to about four or five of the ones that I view are worthy of some response from the authorities.

Another recent angry complainant comes from a reader who bears my own surname (although not related) and he is mightily annoyed by the fact that the authorities (JPJ and Police) have not taken any action against those vehicles still fitted with the HID lights as headlights for their vehicles. They are so bright they can damage the light meters used at safety check stations. They’re actually illegal so they’re not supposed to be on any vehicle at all – but yet there are many seen on the roads here; and they are both a danger and a nuisance to all drivers and pedestrians on the road. Can something please be done about this? Better enforcement, higher fines, maybe even suspension of their driving licence for the errant driver to ensure that we mean business!

While still on the road, many complaints have also been made for me to write a lengthy piece about road users – especially drivers and their haphazard way of driving, parking and other wrong doings. The obvious top gripes are on drivers who park anywhere they want – on the footpaths (go around the SGH area); along yellow lines (anywhere in town!); in handicapped spaces; and blocking other vehicles by double and even triple parking!

Our drivers in general take the cake when it comes to really bad driving! They seldom if ever use their signal lights; they would always use the outer lane even when they’re driving slowly; they jump the traffic lights and they would weave through congested traffic without giving a thought for others.

Even worse than the drivers are the motorcyclists; the way that they all want to be right at the starting line for when the traffic lights turn green and the way they squeeze in between fast moving vehicles just to get to their destination faster without a care in the world (even for themselves!)

Data from the Ministry of Works revealed that in 2017, the number of deaths due to road accidents were 6,740 of which 45.9 per cent were motorcyclists! Please, if you are a motorcyclist, take better care on the road. It’s your life after all.

I had left my biggest gripe of all last – that of littering and why we continue to be a nation of litterbugs!

If all of us treat the public space that we occupy on a daily basis like our homes and our own living rooms, our own toilets and bathrooms and kitchens – won’t it just be lovely!?

But we don’t!

So now, everywhere we go, it’s litter that we see – some of us actually are the culprits, throwing away that used tissue paper, that can of finished soda, that cigarette butt. There are places and bins and there are receptacles within reach, be it inside your vehicle, nearby where you’re walking or sitting, and all it takes is that little extra effort to throw it in there.

There are actually people who carry with them empty plastic bags for such utility and there are many who when they go for an outing, picnic, excursion or what-have-you, bring along with them big black garbage bags to store and later throw away such garbage into their proper places by carting them away. Why can’t we all do this?

It saddens and also angers me to see after a public event like a food and fun fair, some musical evening or charity run, to see the event venue totally littered with rubbish. Firstly the organisers must ensure that there are sufficient bins placed in strategic positions to enable garbage to be thrown into; secondly there should be security engaged to ensure that there is strict enforcement that all such rubbish must be disposed of properly. Usually such personnel are non-existent.

I have said enough about ad-hoc night markets and their rubbish throwers (my pet peeve once again – the Satok Uptown Market at the Civic Centre Carpark every Friday and Saturday night from 9pm to 3am!) – I have yet to see a single morning after where there is no litter along the roadsides where the patrons to this market had illegally parked their vehicles. Yet, no action has been taken up to date. It’s been four years!

It’s a very sad case. No one wants to take any responsibility for it.

I wish to thank those readers and friends who have taken the trouble and the time to either call me, text me or personally spoken to me about suggestions, ideas and complaints on what I should write about next.

My eyes and ears are always open for your suggestions.