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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Foresight in resolving social and community problems crucial for the local authorities

There have been quite a number of cases when open parks and fields have been turned over for development purposes; a move that usually invite protests from the local residents.

LOOKING around our housing estates, work and recreation spaces, I believe many of us must have a wish list of things for a better living, work/study and recreational environment.

Although headway has been made in the residential arena with more practical and creative designs and concepts (depending on who the developers are), more value-adding initiatives are still needed in our work place and recreational facilities.

Im sure many of us have noticed there are quite a number of office buildings in some zones of Kuala Lumpur that are built up to the maximum plot ratio and are too close to the pedestrian walkways and roads. A high percentage of the built-up space has been sold which explain why the buildings dont have enough parking spaces for the office workers and visitors.

Allowing such building designs will further exacerbate the severe parking space shortage in the city.

During the construction of these buildings, the presence of the many tractors, cranes and fork lifts so close to the roads pose a threat to pedestrians and other road users. To prevent any untoward incident, the local authorities should ensure that all new buildings maintain a safe distance from the walkways and roads.

Given their role as the governing authority for land matters and project plans, local authorities that include district and municipal councils, play a highly crucial role in determining the well-being of the local communities and in how the areas that come under their administration fare.

Despite being one of the non glamourous public bodies with their placing in the lower rank of the public administration order, the local authorities are actually important institutions at the local level and the guardian of public property and facilities.

Among their traditional duties are the provision and upkeep of public health and sanitation, general maintenance functions of infrastructure and public facilities, as well as overseeing all land and development matters.

Thats why grouses over clogged drains, poor garbage management, potholes and floods, to town planning matters, environmental protection, building control, and issuance of certificate of fitness for occupation, come under their purview.

Being the authority that is closest to the people, their performance has a direct and immediate impact on the peoples daily lives. Their efficiency or inefficiency in discharging duties will affect the public and rate payers in many ways.

That could explain why the local councils are the recipients of a fair number of letters to the editors to newspapers.

With the many developments going on around us and an expanding population, there is a need for the local authorities to be more proactive and act as the catalyst of change and progress in their areas.

They should not just uphold their traditional roles but be effective thinkers and implementors of plans for social and economic development in their areas.

They must act fast and efficiently at all times, and must also have the foresight and initiative to undertake preventive measures to resolve some of the lingering social and community problems in the long run.

There have been quite a number of cases when open parks and fields have been turned over for development purposes; a move that usually invite protests from the local residents.

Instead of signing over public parks, lakes and open spaces for development purposes, the local authorities should act as the guardian of these public spaces and wherever possible undertake enhancement efforts to further add value to these facilities.

Local authorities should also promote best industry practices in building designs and development planning practices for more environmental friendly designs and healthier living environment.

To prevent over building and congestion, plot ratio of building projects should be strictly adhered to. This is so that the infrastructure, utilities and amenities are not strained.

Our local authorities can take a leaf from their counterparts in the more developed countries such as South Korea and Japan with well structured and transparent practices in building matters.

Over there, fair trade practices are standard operating procedures for all industry players where even the sale of property has to abide by the balloting process; and strict building design guidelines have to be followed even on matters concerning the amount of lighting to a building and natural ventilation.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes shopping complex owners will set aside space for a library and garden which although non-revenue generating, will be much appreciated.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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