Friday, June 20, 2014

Investigation work by local double in price

MPS does not have same amount of resources as other councils

In dire need of attention: The bad road conditions in Jalan Batu Arang, Rawang may be fixed using the Marris fund. —SIA HONG KIA U / The Star
In dire need of attention: The bad road conditions in Jalan Batu Arang, Rawang may be fixed using the Marris fund. —SIA HONG KIA U / The Star
   
MANY local councils may be facing similar challenges resulting from expanding development and a shrinking budget, but the situation that Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) currently grapples with is particularly acute.
Selayang is bordered by three cities — Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur — but because of its municipal status, it does not have the same amount of resources as them.
The main form of revenue for local authorities are assessment taxes and business licence permits.
Despite being in a tight spot, MPS has decided not to raise the rates.
Taken at Taman Selayang Baru, the housing area, along with other residences centered in Selayang Baru, are to be proposed to undergo an engineering survey with the possibility/objective of upgrading Selayang Baru's drainage facilities. The proposal will be raised in the MPS monthly infrastucture committee meeting this June.
Lots to do: An engineering survey has been proposed for this housing area in Selayang Baru to upgrade the area’s drainage facilities.

“We are not raising assessment rates for residents and the fee increase for business licences is being staggered, with the new rates only applicable to registered businesses in 2015,” said MPS president Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain.
Furthermore, the council is recovering from a budget deficit that persisted from 2005 to 2011, with an annual shortfall ranging between RM2.3mil and RM4mil during the six years.
Only in the last three years have MPS’ financial statements shown a budget surplus of RM1.5mil (2012), RM2mil (2013) and RM1.06mil this year.
In 2014, MPS is only able to allocate RM1.5mil for the entire municipality. The council’s sprawling jurisdiction includes Selayang Baru town, Rawang and part of Gombak up to Sungai Pusu.
Most of its operating budget (aside from emoluments) go towards maintaining existing infrastructure.
Major task: MPS is facing the challenges of expanding development and shrinking budget.
MPS is facing the challenges of expanding development and shrinking budget.
The amount is certainly insufficient to deal with the needs of a rapidly growing municipality with an expanding population, in terms of building new infrastructure including drainage systems.
“We allocated slightly less than RM1mil to maintain trees and for landscaping, and the money has almost been exhausted by the end of April,” noted Mohd Azizi.
Fortunately for the council, it received an infusion of RM1.7mil from the state government in April as part of a general disbursement to all 12 local councils in Selangor.
“With the money, we managed to refurbish four community halls in Selayang,” said Mohd Aizi.
Another source for MPS’ budget is the Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris) to help upkeep the roads.
According to MPS councillor Chua Wei Kiat, RM9mil in Marris funds, from both the statutory body and assemblymen’s allocation, were approved for council road upgrading projects in late May.
“About 18 zones will be getting their allocations for road maintenance and upgrading work first,” said MPS councillor Lim Ching How.
Naturally, the lack of funds and deteriorating level of services does not sit well with Selayang residents and other stakeholders.
Mohd Fikri, 27, said maintenance was poor.
According to MPS councillor Chua Wei Kiat (far right), the council now has a fresh infusion of RM9mil from Marris funds (both by the statutory body and allocations from state assemblymen) to maintain and upgrade Selayang's roads for 2014.
Chua (right) says RM9mil in Marris funds, from both the statutory body and state assemblymen’s allocation, were approved for council road upgrading projects in late May.
“We were told that we need to pay RM50 once every three months, over and above our assessment, to clean the drains,” he claimed.
Selayang, like other local councils, is battling a dengue epidemic — partly blamed on clogged drains and stagnant water.
Other areas in the municipality are also in dire need of attention, given their prior haphazard construction and growth.
Mohd Azizi said the council was planning to engage surveyors and engineers to inspect Selayang Baru’s drainage system, with the intention of overhauling the entire structure.
The preliminary survey is expected to cost at least RM800,000 and will cover over 220ha of territory, including Kampung Selayang Baru, Kampung Lembah Indah, Taman Selayang, parts of the Old Selayang Wholesale Market and Kampung Mahkota.
These areas, the council president said, were perennially affected by flashfloods during the rainy season because of the haphazard drainage system, as it was previously a “new village.”
“It is a matter of short-term versus long-term, we cannot just clean the drain after each flashflood because it is not just a problem of clogged drains.”
“It could be the lack of retention ponds, or a matter of switching to newer V-shaped 60mm concrete channels, the measures will depend on the survey results,” said Mohd Azizi, who will be tabling the proposal at the council’s June Infrastructure Committee meeting before the endorsement by the full council board.
Bandar Country Homes councillor G. Gunaraj, whose areas of responsibility include Taman Velox and Emerald West, said residents were questioning why there was a lack of infrastructure especially roads despite the high number of construction projects.
“Along Jalan Batu Arang, there are places such as Kampung Sungai Bakau, where the haphazard layout prevents a proper drainage system from being constructed, and as a result, flashfloods often occur,” said Gunaraj.
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Why does an investigation work by so-call local experts can cost RM800,000?
Recently I was asked to check with foreign experts the cost for investigation work for the   Klang River and Gombak River.  For a six month work the asking price was around RM405,000.
Likewise the River of Life investigation work too was over-priced by more than RM2 million?  
So who stand to gain from the over-priced fee?

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