Road signs plastered with advertisements may be an eyesore but for many drivers in the Petaling Jaya-Kuala Lumpur area, clearly visible signs are a matter of road safety, not aesthetics.Especially on busy city roads, they say, it is difficult to drive when road signs are obscured by leaflets or untrimmed greenery.“It’s ridiculous,” said Joshua, a college student who drives to class every day.
“Ridiculously dangerous.”“Signs by definition are supposed to be seen,” added Peter, who is in his late 20s.“Where is my tax money going? Where is the proper urban planning by relevant authorities?”According to the Road Transport Act 1987, the minister in relation to federal roads as well as the appropriate authority in relation to any other road, may require the owner or occupier of any land on which there is a traffic sign or any advertisement or structure that obscures traffic signs from view to remove it.
Likewise, any trees or vegetation that obscure signs from view or distract the attention of drivers may be removed or cut down.However, many examples of hidden signposts remain scattered throughout Petaling Jaya alone. At the traffic lights before the tunnel leading towards the Tropicana Golf Club, a signboard directing drivers to Persiaran Tropicana and Jalan Bukit Mayang Emas stands half-concealed by greenery while across the road, another sign leading to the NKVE/Kuala Lumpur International Airport is barely visible through a mass of undergrowth.
“Road signs you can see is more of an exception than the norm,” said Hsien Sing, who works in Kuala Lumpur and says that signposts in some parts of the city are even worse than those in Petaling Jaya.Advertisements or leaflets stuck onto signboards is another concern for drivers, especially those who rely on road signs to navigate unfamiliar areas. In some cases, signs are completely covered over, making it impossible to decipher the words or symbols behind the ads.
“It really annoys me when I have to find a place,” said Reuben, who recently graduated from university and is now working in Petaling Jaya. “I actually feel that the policemen, to catch all these guys, should just call the numbers.”“It’s really stupid,” added Pearly, an office administrator and retired pharmacist.“Especially when you need the road signs and it’s all covered and you don’t know the roads.”
Alice, who lives in the SS3 area and drives to work in Cheras every day, agreed, saying that it made her angry. “When you don’t know the place, you will be very frustrated. I want to call the numbers and scold them.”“It’s terrible. It’s really bad,” added David, who also works in Kuala Lumpur. “I hate those things.”Even those who are not frustrated by the advertisements are puzzled over the authorities’ lack of action against them. The Road Transport Act also stipulates that any person wilfully damaging, defacing, altering, removing or tampering with any lawfully placed traffic sign will be found guilty of an offence and on conviction be liable to fines not exceeding RM500. However, such warnings appear to have little effect as new advertisements speedily replace those that are taken down.
“I’ll be like, what on earth is that doing there?” said Lisa, 21.Others say that sticking leaflets on road signs is a pointless exercise as no one pays attention to them.“I don’t know if it makes any difference,” said Hsien Sing. “It’s really poor advertising. Malaysians don’t look at road signs anyway. They don’t even notice stop signs – who’s going to notice the tiny writing on the stickers?” – June 16, 2015.