Sungai Bakap residents battle twin plagues of flies and traffic jams


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Taman Puteri Gunung residents’ association chairman Tan Chor Soon shows one of the community recycling and upcycling projects.

GEORGE TOWN: Over the past 15 years, the residents of Sungai Bakap have banded together through communal activities such as recycling campaigns and neighbourhood watch patrols as well as Zumba, yoga and tai-chi classes.

But for all the resourcefulness that has won them local authority awards, the tight-knit community has not been able to find solutions to two major problems — traffic congestion and unsanitary conditions.

Taman Puteri Gunung residents’ association chairman Tan Chor Soon, 56, said that for the 15,000 residents in his neighbourhood and adjacent Tasek Mutiara, getting in and out is a nightmare.

B Saravanan, a resident of Tasek Mutiara, says the stench from nearby pig and chicken farms and the resulting infestation of flies has become unbearable.

Sungai Bakap, sandwiched between Nibong Tebal and Simpang Ampat, is the battleground for a seat in the Penang state assembly. Voters will decide on July 6 between Dr Joohari Ariffin of Pakatan Harapan and Abidin Ismail of Perikatan Nasional.

The seat became vacant on the death of assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff on May 24.

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Taman Puteri Gunung residents’ association chairman Tan Chor Soon and Forum Seberang Perai founder B Saravanan.

Taman Puteri Gunung, formerly known as Kampung Kepala Gajah, is one of the first settlements in Sungai Bakap, a district with more than 5,000 voters.

Larger residential developments have swamped the area over the past decade, leaving its 1,000 residents hemmed in without an alternative access road.

Tan said traffic from his residential area has slowed down to a crawl since the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge was opened in 2017. “It can sometimes take an hour just to travel a short distance,” he told FMT.

He said residents have resorted to using a 10ft-wide road through the forest, dubbed the “rat lane”, but it presents its own challenges. “There are no lights and since it is so narrow, it is tough for two cars to pass each other, causing a jam too,” Tan added.

He said residents from eight neighbourhoods have petitioned chief minister Chow Kon Yeow for an alternative route during the 2022 election campaign but nothing has been done.

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Tan with some of the upcycled items the community makes and sells.

Saravanan, who founded Forum Seberang Perai, an interest group that highlights development issues on the mainland, said he met Chow and Nibong Tebal MP Fadhlina Sidek at that time.

“Chow assured me the problem will be solved but he has not made good on that promise,” he told FMT.

Apart from that, Saravanan said, the presence of chicken and pig farms nearby has led to an infestation of flies in Taman Mutiara since 2016.

To demonstrate the seriousness of the problem, he pointed to a waffle shop at a popular mall that has fly-filled glue traps on its counters.

“These flies are active from sunrise to sunset,” he said, adding that it is a perpetual battle for the residents.

He said there are laws stipulating that there must be a buffer between poultry farms and residential areas but they have been ignored.

Fly traps at a waffle shop at a mall near Bandar Tasek Mutiara.

In an April 4 letter to Saravanan, the Penang veterinary services department confirmed that there was a chicken farm just 200m from the housing area.

“There must be some political will to put an end to this. We have been suffering for so long,” he said, adding that he and the residents’ group have sent more than 100 complaints to the Seberang Perai city council since 2021.

FMT has sought comment from the state government and chief minister’s office. - Mkini

Sungai Bakap residents battle twin plagues of flies and traffic jams