Somewhere in between Jalan Chulia and Kampung Malabar, lies a lane without a name attributed to it. This lane, which is the abode for the unfortunates, has been long ignored and soon will fade away from the eyes of Penangites.
“If you are not brave you better not stay here,” said 70-year-old Ewe Qui Nui, who is making ends meet to support both her and her bedridden son.
That warning probably sums up the living conditions.
Occupied mainly by odd-job workers who depend on welfare support, the nameless lane’s existence has been oblivious to the city council.
A glance through the lane will tell plenty of stories for an observer, as rubbish is dumped all over the place with no proper dumping site.
Worse still, the rubbish that has not been cleared for the past five or six years, accumulating to a view that sores the eyes of passer Byers.
Leaking rooftops, constant floods, and mosquitoes are also persistent problems for the houses, which cost less than RM100 rental per residence.
The house owners are not helping to improve the situation any better, as they increase rental charges without doing anything to fix the glaring problems in the house structures.
Another obvious concern is a tall aging tree that is seen surviving on its roots near a couple of houses.
“If that tree falls, those two houses won’t have any electricity after that,” said one of the residents Ng Chiang Seng.
“Yesterday there was a strong wind, and I was living in fear that the tree might collapse anytime,” recalled Zahara, another resident.
For Shahabi, a single mother who suffers from lung cancer, providing a comfortable home for her child remains her only concern.
“I can’t work. If I work for 2 weeks, I will be sick for the next 2 or 3 months. Sometimes I find boxes around the place and go and sell them in order to feed both of us,” she said, pointing at her three-and-half year-old daughter.
In the case of Paruti, the rental rates are eating into her minimal wages.
“I work by washing dishes and doing other household stuff. I earn RM10 per day, but the house owner already takes away RM90 from me,” said the 58-year-old, who is living alone after the death of her husband, and is still trying to support five children.
With all the stories that these residents narrate, the main problem seems to be the same- that nobody cares for their existence, let alone their welfare or living conditions.