With land getting scarcer by the day in the island, there is no other way to build affordable housing in Penang but up. Residential development has been going vertical for a while now with many projects rising more than twenty storeys. What used to be suburbs are now thriving townships peppered with a mix of high and low-rise apartments.
High-rise living takes a lot of getting used to, especially when many families live in close proximity to one another in such confined spaces and amenities have to be shared among those living in the same building. Additionally, each apartment has to contribute to a monthly service and maintenance fund to keep the common property in good habitable conditions. The amount collected goes towards paying for the water and electricity supplies to the common property, maintaining the elevators, employing security guards and cleaners, among others.
Where I live, we have not been issued with Strata Titles yet. The developer controls the management of the premises. Apartment owners like us have little say in the running of this place which we call home and which rightfully belongs to us now. We are left to the mercy of their whims and fancies. We were never consulted over major expenses and construction of additional structures which have now been deemed illegal by the authorities.
The monthly collection amounts to nearly RM49,000. The management takes RM4,000 for their services, the guards RM12,000 and cleaners RM9,000. For the amount that the management charges us for their services and employing of guards, I would expect a certain degree of professionalism on their part. Complaints, verbally or through letters, to the management went unheeded. This is truly appalling.
I wrote a letter to the management more than one month ago. It was regarding a fire that broke out at the apartment one floor below mine. That letter was copied to the State Assemblyman of my area YB Goh Kheng Sneah and the Pengarah of Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat for Penang. A few days ago, I received the copy of a letter from the YB Goh regarding this matter. It is good to know that he has taken a concern in this matter and is acting on it. However, I am disappointed that the management have neither bothered to reply nor acknowledge my letter to them.
The arrogance on the part of the management is a major cause for concern where safety issues are related. I came to live in this apartment knowing full well the risks of staying in a high-rise apartment for a disabled using a wheelchair. I would have no cause to complain if the premises is properly maintained. However cars are allowed to be parked indiscriminately in the driveway that prevented access to fire engines on two occasions when fires broke out. The emergency generator which should be maintained was not.
When a blackout occurred in my area in April, the emergency generator could not start because the battery was flat. The generator provides essential supply to power elevators, corridor lightings and the pump to provide water pressure to the rising mains. It is crucial that water pressure be maintained in the rising mains at all times, especially more so when there is no power supply. Some people will resort to lighting candles to illuminate their apartments when there is a blackout. Should a fire occur, I would want to see how the firemen extinguish the flames at the higher floors without water.
There are many other issues which also need to be addressed. The management should listen to the grouses of residents and try to get to the bottom of it accordingly. This is really a nice place to live in. The management should be genuine and honest in helping us resolve our concerns and problems. If only both parties can sit down and discuss in-depth the issues at stake without one trying to stamp their clout over another, many problems would already be settled by now. For now, I will just have to wait and see how the local authorities will act on these complaints.