THE state of some of the apartments in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is appalling to say the least.
I am sure most of them would fail building regulations and are sitting ducks, in my opinion, in case of a fire accident.
Some of them in the Bandar area have been there for decades. There are a clutch of apartments one can see while heading to the capital from the Mabohai area. One of them has been vacated and fenced with the indication of future development.
But there are others that are visibly run down. Most of them do not even have designated places to park cars with the result tenants park them on both sides of the road and even on pavements.
The flats are a major fire hazard at night as cars are parked randomly inside with very little place for the tenants to run should there be an accident. The fire engines won’t have a chance to even get closer to the building surrounded by a sea of cars.
Many departments are involved in the building and maintenance of apartments in the country and the crucial ones that come to mind are the Land Department, Town and Country Planning Department, Public Health Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Public Works Department and Department of Electrical Services.
Is there a body that looks into the upkeep of apartments and certifies them fit to be occupied?
I live in an apartment and so are many of my friends. I have never seen anyone from the Public Health or the Fire and Rescue Department come for a check.
I have read in the Borneo Bulletin of such checks conducted at some stores and the Municipal Department regularly checks and fines businesses dumping rubbish or materials indiscriminately.
Such efforts have to be lauded, but when it comes to some of the apartments (which I can’t identify for obvious reasons), unfortunately officials have shown scant disregard to their upkeep and safety.
In some of the apartments, the corridors are very narrow and are often seen stacked with things that tenants can’t fit inside their flats. Sewer pipes running down the outer walls of the apartments are found leaking leaving the walls black with mould. Tenants living in ground floor flats have no other option but to seal all windows tight.
Most of such flats are occupied by foreigners on a sharing basis. Isn’t it the flat owners’ responsibility to maintain them? And if they fail – which they have given the state of the flats – isn’t it the job of the relevant authority to bring them to book?
The flat owners may not be bothered about the number of occupants so long as the tenant, who signs the deal, agrees to a long-term stay.
Many newer flats built around those run down apartments are well maintained and they fetch good rent for their owners, many of them occupied by public servants.
Needless to say there are a couple of apartments in Bandar that are not fit to be occupied. All tenants have to be moved out and owners issued notices to refurbish them.
The relevant authority should conduct regular checks to ensure that these owners don’t go back to their old ways.
The capitals of all countries carry their own charm with a mix of new and old structures telling visitors the tale of how it has evolved over the decades. While most of Bandar effuses that feeling, these apartments are the odd ones that tell the tale of neglect.
It’s time the Bandar beatification efforts encompass some of our old buildings including apartments.
– Bandar Man