Pedestrians have rights too

As you are walking along the pedestrian five-foot-ways, your way is suddenly obstructed forcing you to sidestep onto a busy road, with speeding vehicles.

For many, obstructions along these five-foot-ways have become a normal sight and are often ignored. But these very same obstructions could involve you and your family in terrible road accidents.
In fact, without you realising it, your right as a pedestrian has been violated. Don’t be shocked, you might not realise it but the fact is pedestrians deserve to be respected as they too have rights protected by local laws.
For H. Ramly, 43, he is unaware that pedestrians have rights protected by laws. He confirms that the five-foot-ways are often cluttered with paraphernalia including clothes, bags, motorcycles and construction material, which disturbs the pedestrians’ way.
“As far as I know there has never been any information from the relevant authorities on pedestrian rights. It is as if they have been hidden away and no one knows of them except for the people involved in judiciary matters,” he explains.
Similarly, Muhamad Aminuddin, 27, feels that the laws exist but are not implemented. “Why are these laws left to ferment in the law books?”
“It can be said that the pedestrians are being deprived,” he says.
He goes on to say that the many obstructions on the five-foot-ways do not just exist in Penang, but also in towns all over Malaysia. He is of the opinion that an awareness campaign would be of utmost importance to inform pedestrians of their rights, which have been consistently ignored in the past.
CAP’s survey found that there are many obstructions on the five-foot-ways under the arches of roadside buildings.
In the areas of Market Street, King Street and several other roads, obstructions include bicycles, motorcycles, clothes and VCD stalls are placed right in the middle of five-foot-ways. In fact, there are even metal gates built along these ways to keep pedestrians from using them.
According to the law, such actions violate the rights of the pedestrians. The building or premise owners or renters usually prioritise their sales and marginalise the pedestrians in the process. This course of action is so clearly a violation of pedestrian rights.
Although the local authorities do charge some fines on those who park their motorcycles on the five-foot-ways along Cambell Street, such enforcement should be done on all other areas.
It should not be limited to motorcycles parking in open pedestrian ways in tourist attraction  areas, but should also include imposing fines on owners of buldings or trading premises that violate pedestrian rights.

Section 46 I (a) and (b)  and Section 47 Clause 3 (a) of the Streets, Drainage  and Building Act 1974 states that:

Any person who

(a) builds, erects, sets up or maintains or permits to be built, erected or set up or maintained any wall, fence, rail, post or any accumulation of any substance, or other obstruction in any public place;

(b) without the prior written permission of the local authority covers over or obstructs any open drain, or aqueduct along the side of any street,

shall be guilty of causing an obstruction and may be arrested without warrant by any police officer or any officer or employee of the local authority authorised in writing in that behalf by the local authority and taken before a Magistrate’s Court and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.

In addition, the local authority may cause any such obstruction to be removed or may itself through its servants remove the same to a suitable place, there to remain at the risk of the owner or person offending and may detain the same until the expenses of removal and detention are paid.