A marked pothole in Shah Alam last year. If one is lucky, perhaps there will be a quick fix over the next few days following a report. Pic by Mohd Asri Saifuddin Mamat

Potholes.

I have never heard of any driver in Malaysia who has never had a less than pleasant experience with these bothersome things plaguing our roads.

I had the unfortunate luck of having to fork out almost RM500 after steering my car straight into a pothole as I was driving in Petaling Jaya. It was a rainy evening and I was on my way to the gym. Mistaking it for another puddle on the road, I drove headlong into what was, in reality, a huge pothole.

Despite not going over the speed limit, I knew that there would be substantial damage to my car. I was only proven right when my brother took it to a workshop to have the damage assessed. My brand new tyre had burst and its rim went kaput, coupled with a horrible camber misalignment.

Bear in mind that this isn’t the first time that I have had to shell out money for something that could’ve been avoided in the first place.

This is a problem that many road users have been coping with on a daily basis, where motorcyclists are forced to perform stunt-like acts to avoid going into a pothole and risk losing their limb(s), and other motorists execute dangerous manoeuvres to avoid not just potholes, but motorcyclists who risk falling off and getting run over.

A number of my friends, especially the ones who ride bikes, have had to face the nightmare of falling off their motorcycles because they hadn’t noticed a pothole that had appeared before them. Worse still, is when these dangerous things are hidden under the guise of a puddle of shallow water during or after a downpour.

I always thought that having to spend hard-earned money on repairs for a car was bad enough. My mother reminded me there have been others who haven’t been as lucky as my friends and I have been.

She told me about her friend’s husband, who had been riding his motorcycle to work one rainy day and dived headfirst into a pothole.

Needless to say, he was thrown off his bike and ended up with a broken jaw and a horrifyingly bruised body. The accident didn’t only burn a hole in his pocket, but scarred him for life.

I was slapped with yet another awful reminder of the horrible repercussions of the danger of potholes when I read about Muhamad Aizat Onn, whose case was recently highlighted in the media.

His fall from the motorcycle after a run-in with a pothole left him with a permanently-disfigured face and eight broken teeth, forcing him to wear a mask whenever he leaves home.

My question here is simple: why aren’t the authorities doing something to solve this issue?

Are we waiting for lives to be lost before drastic action is taken?

This is the problem with the system itself. Actions are taken only when absolutely required, that is, when a life is taken and translated into nothing but a mere statistic.

The rakyat do not see much action taken by the local authorities. Our complaints and reports fall on deaf ears. If our complaints are heard by any chance, the buck is passed from one party to another.

If one is lucky, perhaps there would be a quick fix over the next few days following the report. However, barely days later, the potholes reappear, once again posing a hazard to all. Perhaps one can blame the quality of work that has been done?

Like the rest of the rakyat, I cannot help but wonder and assume that is truly the case.

The rakyat are doing their part by paying taxes.

The rakyat are doing their part by reporting potholes they come across.

The rakyat are doing their part by trying their best to avoid accidents.

However, the rakyat can only do so much. It’s now the responsibility of local councils to do what is necessary, such as reducing pothole-related accidents by fixing the root problem.

The writer, a lecturer at Sunway College, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scottish/Japanese/Indian lineage. She believes in a tomorrow where there is no racism and hatred