Malaysiakini Letter

The consumers’ best protection is self-protection

Marimuthu Nadason  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I asked the officers in my organisation on who they call to complain about road conditions along the Federal Highway near Seri Setia (at the former Motorola exit heading towards Klang). Agencies such as Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Public Works Department (JKR) have been bandied about.

As far as I can remember, (more than a decade now) for that stretch of road, floods during a downpour reduce a three-lane road to a one-lane road. Here road users experience loss of use of the road.

Another area where flooding frequently occurs is the exit before Sungai Rasau toll plaza (towards Klang). The motorcycle lanes and a large area of the main road leading to the toll booths are constantly inundated during a downpour. Motorcyclists dangerously manoeuvre in these areas, more often than not riding on the main road (as they do more often nowadays).

To my knowledge this problem has not been addressed for the past decade or more. As this area is directly in front of the toll booth, the toll operators do not need a formal complain to act on it. And this situation should have been rectified years ago, and yet until recently it is still a problem.

Based on the complaints received by the National Consumers Complaints Centre or NCCC an average consumer in Malaysia has to complain about poor services when it comes to public transport, roads and cars in addition to housing, banking, healthcare, food safety and education services.

Collectively, complaints in these areas cost consumers close to a hundred million ringgit in potential loss. Many of these complaints also contribute to loss of man-hour as complainants have limited attention to their work when complaints involving big ticket items cause undue stress in their lives.

Travelling time almost doubles when roads are inundated during a downpour, adding to the loss of valuable time for Malaysians. Excuses such as poor maintenance are unacceptable because as normal citizens, all forms of tax have been paid - road tax, toll, quit rent and assessment, etc.

Driving your own cars is still a primary option when travelling to work (if we can afford a car). While public transport such as the MRT and LRT is making inroads to increase connectivity, the ‘last mile’ solution is still a distant. Until such time this is solved, we hope authorities do not take another decade or more to solve flash flood problems not only along main roads but everywhere.

As the president of the Malaysian Association of Standards Users, I believe the consumers’ best protection is self-protection. In order to do that collective action is key to get business and local authorities to respond promptly to our dissatisfactions until we are satisfied. Thus, I urge us - the consumers - to flood instead, local authorities and highway operators with complaints (directly or through NCCC) if you are unhappy with their services and road conditions.

PROF DR MARIMUTHU NADASON is president, Malaysian Association of Standards Users.

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