IT HAS been quite some time since I visited my sister after she and her family moved into one of the government flats in Bandar Seri Begawan.
As it was fasting month, she invited me for sungkai.
The flat is under her husband’s name and my sister is a full-time housewife taking care of their four young children.
It was my first time visit to the government flats in the capital. I was familiar with the two adjacent famous schools; one is a prestigious all-male school.
With the address and direction given by my sister, I arrived but at first got confused where all visitors should park their vehicles as there was neither any signage nor parking lots for visitors.
My sister told me to just park at one of the empty garages and explained to me that the unit is vacant for a few years.
I was puzzled because the government flats area is one of the most sought-after, centralised location, well-designed and equipped with basic amenities and only above officer grade government staff stay there.
The overgrown grass and badly maintained landscape prompted me to ask my sister what happened.
After Sungkai, my sister and her husband told me that they do not feel safe living there anymore.
According to them, maintenance of the surrounding began lacking about five years ago.
Several police reports were lodged over vandalism in the area like puncturing car tyres, etc.
Tenants began to leave one after another because of lack of maintenance and security.
About two years ago, some unwanted neighbours starting living in their block, my sister informed. They are homeless drug addicts.
Despite attempts by the residents including reporting to the police, nothing happened. They (drug addicts) act like they are above the law and continue to come and stay in the area.
My brother-in-law fear for the safety of his family as sometimes he has to work outside the district.
My sister told me that almost every night they can hear noises coming from the vacant units and now she is sleeping with a baseball bat and axe under the bed. They have several times called and visited the office that manages the estate, but to no avail.
My sister said that one maintenance department is now installing security fence but she doubts this can solve the problem, yet acknowledging the effort made.
Though enforcement agencies have visited the area and conducted investigations, the problem still exists.
I left my sister’s house, thanking them for a lovely meal. I was really surprised of hearing the problem they have been facing all these years.
In my opinion, authorities need to act seriously, swiftly and be result oriented when dealing with criminals and do not take things for granted.