BY BRENDA CH’NG
A DIRECTIVE from Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) requiring all gated and guarded neighbourhoods to lift their boom gates from 6am to midnight has caused an uproar among residents who fear for their safety.
The directive from the council’s Safe City Committee is to allow for a free flow of traffic in and out of the neighbourhood.
The Safe City Committee consists of MBPJ Planning Department officers, councillor Khairul Anuar, the police as well as Fire and Rescue Department personnel.
“Can MBPJ guarantee the safety of residents if we keep the boom gate up from 6am to midnight? Can they ensure zero crime rate here?” resident Jonathan Wong questioned during a public consultation session recently.
The session was organised by Local Government, Studies and Research Committee chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre to discuss the Selangor government’s five-year manifesto.
Wong further argued that residents felt safer with the boom gate and keeping it up defeated the purpose of having it in the first place.
The decision to lift the boom gates came after residents argued against the demolition of gated and guarded structures in neighbourhoods around Petaling Jaya.
MBPJ had previously written to the residents associations (RA) and Rukun Tetangga (RT), instructing them to tear down the structures as it goes against the local government guidelines.
The council said the guard booths, boom gates and other access control methods employed were technically illegal as they did not comply with the council’s Planning Development Department’s guidelines.
These obstructions on public land contravened Section 46 (1) (a) of the Streets, Drainage and Building Act 1974.
“If they insist on doing so, then compensate residents for their losses and demolish the structures yourselves at your own cost,” said Wong to loud applause from other residents at the session.
Echoing his woes was SS23 Taman Sea resident Anson Tan, who said residents had spent about RM2,000 to RM3,000 to instal closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their neighbourhood.
“We also pay a monthly security fee of about RM600, more than the assessment fee we pay, which is about RM200 to RM300,” he said.
Tan added that the two-decade- old neighbourhood had many exits and entry points, making the fencing and boom gates necessary to deter crime.
In addition, he said the fencing in his area had been put up by the developer and he could not understand the need to take it down now.
“We did not even have a say in the matter. The council should have held dialogues with the residents first instead of just giving us a letter,” said Tan.
The residents present also pointed out that crime now mostly took place during the day and rarely at night.
By lifting the boom gate during the day, residents fear more criminals will have access to the neighbourhood.
A PJU1A Ara Damansara resident who only wanted to be known as Say said crime rate in his area had dropped with the implementation of the gated and guarded scheme.
Meanwhile, a check by StarMetro showed that there are 181 residential areas with guard booths throughout Petaling Jaya, designed to restrict access and monitor visitors.
In response, Teng said the issue would be further discussed to see whether it could be allowed if a consensus among residents was reached.
Also, he said the state was looking into increasing enforcement officers to patrol the streets and looking for ways to lower the crime rate.
“I have asked council presidents and mayors to come up with a proposal on how to reduce crime in their areas,” he said.