Potholes have been in the news lately ever since Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, was injured after hitting one while cycling.
An apology was then issued by the Public Works Department (PWD) about the condition of the road in Jalan Kampung Sri Cheeding, Banting.
This led social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who’s also the Safe Community Association chairman, to question PWD’s double standards of apologising only when someone of influence got hurt.
He then suggested that the government form a special squad to check for potholes and other road issues as a solution to prevent more similar accidents from happening.
But behind-the-scenes, we’ve had an existing squad doing this since 2007, and they’re not even backed by the government.
They’re Known As The Brotherhood
The Brotherhood is a volunteer group, formed 14 years ago by producer, director, and activist Lando Zawawi.
While avoiding potholes as a motorist, he realised that many driving behind him were also risking themselves from the same danger. He shared that knowing this didn’t feel good at all and he wanted to do something about it.
“I’ve lost many friends and know many more that have lost their loved ones caused by poor road conditions, including potholes. I got into fixing potholes because I knew it simply could be done,” he told Vulcan Post.
It’s a sentiment shared across many of the group’s members who go around looking for potholes, marking them in spray paint, and lodging reports to authorities.
If authorities don’t attend to or fix these potholes in three days, the group will patch it up themselves. This restoration however, is meant as a temporary fix until authorities themselves properly tar the roads.
The cost of repairs can cost the group between RM20 to RM70 per pothole, depending on the size of the hole. Members use their own income to fund tools and materials like bauxite and bitumen to fix the roads.
As most of them have day jobs, they conduct their operations during the night, setting up safety cones and blinkers to redirect traffic.
Each patch up requires a team of 3 on a district road, while 15 members are needed for highways. In total, the group has at least 10,500 members across 54 teams existing in every state.
What Do Authorities Say About It?
The Brotherhood goes by many names, some may know them as the Ikatan Silaturrahim Brotherhood. The group also refers to themselves as Rebel Road Fixers.
Lando told Vulcan Post that the reason for this title was because the potholes were being fixed without any permits from authorities.
He also confirmed that there were legality issues surrounding The Brotherhood’s efforts. But after some run-ins with city councils in the past, he’s tired of thinking about what authorities could do to them.
“You have to understand that all of Brotherhood’s operations of pothole fixing and roadline markings are done because our complaints to government officials go unattended. Some of them also take an extremely long time to fix,” Lando told Vulcan Post.
Recently, many netizens were confused by a picture Lando posted on his public profile where he was seen holding an award with the Mayor of KL on January 11.
Many congratulated The Brotherhood for finally being recognised by authorities on their efforts in making the city’s roads safer.
However, Lando told Vulcan Post that this award was actually given to DBKL by The Brotherhood, for being the most improved and responsive Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBT) in 2020.
This effort is actually part of The Brotherhood’s campaign in educating authorities on road safety for the public. Some of their past campaigns targeted the public in informing motorists about riding and driving safely.
Another was in collaboration with the Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) to highlight the legality aspects of being a road user. It includes topics like paying for road tax and renewing one’s license.
While The Brotherhood leads by example, Lando hopes that their efforts will encourage authorities to take action and attend to road issues more quickly and efficiently.
He also encouraged the public to lodge written complaints to the necessary authorities, instead of just verbal ones about potholes surrounding their areas.
Featured Image Credit: Lando Zawawi, founder of The Brotherhood