Abandoned houses a rising concern among Kg Ayer residents

National 2 minutes, 57 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

THE number of abandoned houses at Kg Bolkiah A is causing consternation among residents who worry that the houses would attract drug addicts and thieves.

When The Brunei Times visited the housing estate built in 1994 by the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah yesterday, up to 28 of the 225 houses there were visibly abandoned, with only a few discarded furnitures left in some of them and piles of rubbish left in others.

One of the residents whose home neighboured an abandoned house said that her neighbours had moved out two years ago when they were able to secure a house at the Tanah Jambu National Housing Scheme.

“The house has since deteriorated and sometimes bits and pieces of the house such as windows, doorknobs or any leftover furniture will be stolen,” said the woman who wished to be known only as Norsiah.

“Although we worry that these places might attract anti-social activities such as drug use, at least we do not feel threatened in our own homes because cases of house-breaking are very uncommon,” she said.

Another resident, who wished to be known only as Hjh Liah, said that theft is a particular problem for the village but said that the issue of abandoned houses is not only limited to Kg Bolkiah A but also to neighbouring Kg Bolkiah B and elsewhere in Kampung Ayer.

“My neighbour moved away a few years ago to live in a National Housing Scheme house in Kg Lugu, leaving his house with some neglected furniture, but over time I noticed that the leftover furniture were no longer there so people must have stolen them,” she said.

When asked how her neighbour could have obtained a National Housing Scheme house, which is normally granted to those who do not own any property, Hjh Liah said that her neighbour applied for the house under his sister’s name.

“Why would they not want to move to a new house that is in a better condition? The houses here are over 20 years old and a lot of the residents here cannot afford to repair their houses back to good condition,” she said.

The Village Head of Kg Bolkiah A Shahminan Hj Matzin did not respond to requests for comments on the matter yesterday.

However, speaking to The Brunei Times, the Village Head of neighbouring Kg Tarap Bau and Kg Lupak Luas Hj Suhaili Hj Moktar acknowledged that the more remote water villages such as the area surrounding Kg Bolkiah A are usually prone to drug abuse among its residents.

“It is a problem that is thankfully still under relative control but the secluded nature of abandoned houses usually attracts Syabu users in places like this and I worry that the effect might spillover to my kampung,” he said.

“My perception of the problem is that this place is remote and unsuitable for daily living of workers as it costs roughly $4 or $5 per day to travel by water taxi to the capital for work and one hour’s drive if they (residents) own a car,” he said.

He said that the problem is compounded by the fact that those houses cannot be rented out or sold so they are left to rot if no one stays at the houses.

“These (abandoned) houses ought to be restored and turned into homes for retirees who do not have to travel as much as workers but that decision is in the hands of the authorities so the residents won’t be able to do much about it,” he said.

The Brunei Times