Tuesday December 16, 2008
Potholes no longer a joke
TUESDAY TAKE ZUKRI VALENTENO
We used to joke that a driver would know he had entered Kuala Lumpur’s city limits once his vehicle “behaved” like it had been jolted by turbulence.
Such jokes made its rounds for ages — no thanks to the horrendous condition of the roads in our federal capital.
It led to the emergence of cheeky bumper stickers with messages like “I survived KL potholes” or “KL potholes rock” which were popular among KLites.
You would experience the jolt in the joke if you were entering Kuala Lumpur after travelling smoothly along the Karak Highway from Kuantan. The smooth drive would instantly give way to jumps, quivers and shakes. Once, a friend who was sleeping in the car awoke at this moment and asked: “Ohh.. dah sampai KL ke?”
Roads and lanes in the so-called Golden Triangle in the heart of our metropolitan city are not spared either and thus raising serious questions on the role and responsibilities of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), in road maintenance and upkeep.
Even former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad acknowledged the existence of such bumper stickers in an interview about Kuala Lumpur sometime ago. He had said that potholes were among the undesirable features of the beautiful city.
Frankly, we may have the best road system in Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur which is complete with first-class tunnels, bypasses and underpasses, even a Smart tunnel to deal with flash floods. But it’s the condition of these roads that stands out like a sore thumb.
Potholes are not only ugly, they are also a road hazard because many accidents are caused by the gaping holes on the surface. They are potential death traps along poorly-lit roads.
As a motorcyclist (I always prefer to be called a rider since mine is a superbike) it is awfully difficult to steer in and out in the nick of time on badly maintained roads, what with the ever-reckless drivers of Kuala Lumpur who sometimes do not care about other users, especially those on two wheels.
And as a driver I really resent the fact that potholes is the major cause of faulty car suspension system no matter how expensive they are. The suspension system gives way even after only two to three years on KL roads.
The worst victim is, however, the locally-assembled national cars whose suspension system is most prone to defects simply because the driver could not avoid landing the car or taxi into potholes. Take a trip in a five-year-old Proton taxi and you will know what I am talking about.
I am quite sure that the local authorities like the DBKL is not oblivious to the problem of potholes because, like one oil company’s advertising tagline, “They Are Drivers Too”.
Now, let’s at least try to make driving in Kuala Lumpur a pleasure.
- Zukri Valenteno still enjoys long distance riding on a high-powered bike especially along the East-West Highway and preferably when cruising at 150km near the Banding Lake before hitting the next stopover. He can be reached at email@example.com