‘Batman’ takes on potholes

Batmanathan spray-painting warning markings along Jalan Bunga Raya in Ipoh to warn motorists of the danger.

IPOH: The city has its own “Batman”, who will appear at night whenever his services are required.

But unlike the superhero who kicks criminal butts, B. Batmanathan and a few of his sidekicks would spray paint on potholes to alert motorists of the inherent danger and sometimes fix them.

Batmanathan, 35, leader of the Ikatan Silaturahim Brotherhood, or Brotherhood Ipoh, said he and a few others would go to the affected areas whenever they received a complaint on their Facebook page.

“We will first check on the damage to the sites and which agency has jurisdiction, whether it is the local council or the Public Works Department.

“Then, we will take pictures and report them to the relevant agencies,” he said in an interview.

“If, after some time, the potholes are still not fixed, we will mark the potholes with spray paint and writing to warn motorists.

“We will also put up pictures of these potholes on our Facebook page to elicit a response from the relevant agencies,” said Batmanathan, who works as a control room operator.

“We will fix the pothole whenever we get the materials from our leader in Kuala Lumpur and have the manpower,” he added.

Actor Azlan Sani Zawawi, better known as Lando Zawawi, founded the grassroots organisation Ikatan Silaturahim Brotherhood in 2007 to fix potholes and help raise awareness about road maintenance issues.

They are said to have more than 50 teams nationwide.

Batmanathan said his team currently has about five members, all of whom are volunteers.

Batmanathan and Muhammad Naseh Zuhdi.
Batmanathan and Muhammad Naseh Zuhdi.

“We used to have more members, but some are no longer able to join us owing to personal reasons.

“It is all voluntary, and we cannot force people to join us,” he said, adding that the group would constantly get complaints from people about the potholes.

“We are not able to go out every night; maybe two to three times a week, depending on manpower.

“We will need at least one person to do the markings and another to control traffic,” he added.

Batmanathan said Brotherhood Ipoh was formed about five years ago.

“Most of our members have had bad experiences with potholes, so we felt the need to form our own team.

“Some people say this is not our responsibility, but we do this sincerely with the hope that the people, especially motorcyclists, get to go back home to their families safe and sound,” he said, adding that they have left their mark in areas in Pasir Putih, Jelapang and Pasir Pinji.

Muhammad Naseh Zuhdi Muhamad Nor, 35, a self-employed member of Batmanathan’s team, expressed his desire to prevent further injuries caused by potholes.

“I had been injured before after hitting a pothole.

“It spurred me to join the team and help create awareness among motorists,” he said.

“Ideally, we hope the relevant authorities can patch up potholes or make certain roads brighter to enhance safety without requiring us or the people to file a complaint.

“The Ipoh City Council, for example, already has some advanced machinery to patch up potholes quickly, so they should get more of these to fix affected areas,” he added.
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