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Saturday, 12 August 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

‘We’re packed and ready to go’

MANY RESIDENTS at the dilapidated Sungai Pari Flats in Buntong would have preferred to stay put if not for the letters from the Ipoh City Council advising them to move out.

To the residents, who are mostly senior citizens, the run-down flats are still home and in a “liveable” condition.

Former general worker R. Visallachi, 78, said she likes staying at the flats because it is convenient for her.

“I have been staying here for about eight years. I like it here because it is close to the Buntong Health Clinic and the wet market,” she said.

“I also have good and helpful neighbours too,” she added.

According to residents still living there, people started moving out of the Sungai Pari Flats in 1990s.
According to residents still living there, people started moving out of the Sungai Pari Flats in 1990s

She explained that due to a bad knee and back pains, she often gets assistance from her grandchildren and neighbours.

“I have been staying alone since my husband passed away one and a half years ago due to dengue.

“My grandchildren come here and take me to the clinic while my neighbours help me with my marketing,” she said.

When asked why she declined to stay with her grandchildren, Visallachi said they are living in small houses.

(Above) Matthew looking at a pool of water at the Sungai Pari flats in Buntong during a visit there. –filepic
Matthew looking at a pool of water at the Sungai Pari flats in Buntong during a visit there. –filepic

“They also have their own families and I do not want to trouble them,” she added.

She said she is waiting for a reply from the Ipoh City Council on her application to get a ground unit in the Buntong Harmoni Flats. She added that she does not mind being offered a unit in another housing scheme.

“Actually, I don’t mind staying anywhere, as long as it is convenient for me because of my physical condition.

“If there is no elevator, I would prefer a ground unit,” she said, adding that she is gets RM300 monthly from the Welfare Department.

(Left) This abandoned unit at Block L of the Sungai Pari Flats in Buntong is flooded due to a leaking pipe.
This abandoned unit at Block L of the Sungai Pari Flats in Buntong is flooded due to a leaking pipe.

Built in 1963 for low-income families, the Sungai Pari Flats were recently categorised as unsafe and a dengue hotspot by the city council.

There are still 43 families staying there and all have agreed to be relocated.

Ipoh Datuk Bandar Datuk Zamri Man had also said that there were plans to redevelop the area into a new residential project.

Barber Teh Ong Peng, 79, who still runs his business on the ground floor of the 15-storey tower, said he has been living in the flats since 1967.

Dirty and dilapidated corridors are a common sight at the Sungai Pari Flats in Ipoh. – filepic
Dirty and dilapidated corridors are a common sight at the Sungai Pari Flats in Ipoh. – filepic

“This used to be a good place to stay. There were so many people staying here and we had our own community.

“The rent was also cheap, so what’s not to like?” he asked.

“The residents then started to move out one by one in the 1990s and things started to get worse,” he said.

“There is rubbish all around and the buildings have not been properly maintained,” he said, adding that these days, suspected drug addicts can sometimes be seen loitering and there have also been many cases of theft.

Visallachi hopes to be relocated to a ground-floor unit in the Buntong Harmoni Flats due to her bad knee and back pains.
Visallachi hopes to be relocated to a ground-floor unit in the Buntong Harmoni Flats due to her bad knee and back pains

Teh said he is all set to relocate and is still open for business mainly to inform his regular customers about permanently closing his shop.

“They still come around sometimes. I feel like I need to let them know that I am going to close up shop by the end of the month.

“I have known some of them for a long time so this is closure of sorts,” he said.

“I do not think I will be opening in a new place either.

“The renovations will surely cost a fortune,” he added.

Former lorry driver Chow Weng Wah, 83, said he hopes that the city council will continue to look after the housing project while the residents wait to be relocated.

“The first unit on the ground floor in Block L is flooded and mosquitoes are breeding there.

“Perhaps the city council could put some larvicide to ensure that the residents do not get dengue before they move out,” he said.

“The City Council should also take note of the pile of rubbish outside the block, which is attracting a lot of pests,” he added.

Chow also said that the flats are not bad, despite their current condition.

“They are situated near some eateries and the market.

“My wife and I have been calling this place home for about 50 years,” he said.

“The unit I am staying in is breezy due to a nearby open field.

“The drawback is the smell from the garbage near the drain being brought in by the wind,” he added.

Chow also said he hopes to get a lower-ground unit at a new housing scheme.

“I have requested to be moved to Kinta Heights, but I am not sure I can get it.

“My wife has difficulties walking and having an elevator would be good for us,” he said.

“Considering that we are both senior citizens, I really hope the City Council will consider our request,” he added.

1Malaysia Complaints and Service Centre Chairman P. Matthew also urged the City Council to continue providing its services at the flats while the residents wait to be relocated.

“The residents are still paying their monthly rent so the services should continue.

“There are several spots in the area that are just filled with rubbish and clogged drains are attracting mosquitoes. These should be cleaned up,” he said.

“Suspicious characters loiter in the area and I think the City Council should also station a security guard there,” he added.

On some of the residents’ request to get lower units to relocate to, Matthew said these should be given fair consideration.

“Most of them are senior citizens and have difficulties climbing up stairs. I think this is a reasonable request,” he said.

“I really hope the state government or the city council should be caring and to look into this,” he added.