Room for improving public services

The Urban Transformation Center (UTC) which provides a host of public services conveniently in a one-stop center in the heart of the city, is truly a boon to the public.

Facade of the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC)
viewed from Jalan Duke, Johor Baru
The RTD had regulated the expiry dates of driving licenses to fall on the holder’s birthday to remind them that it was time for its renewal and with my birthday just a few days away, I went to Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan, the Road Transport Department (RTD) branch in the UTC at Galleria Kotaraya to renew my license.

In spite of the crowd there, I made a beeline for the uniformed staff standing next to the docket machine and told him I wanted to renew my driving license.

His questions were brief: “Ada IC? Ada lesen?” Translation: “Have Identity Card? Have old license?” to which I answered, just as briefly, “Ada” meaning, “I have.”

He responded by pressing the button on the machine and passed me a docket number. A glance showed the time printed was just before 12 noon. So I prepared my Identity Card and old driving license and sat down, ready for a long wait.

My docket number at the branch of the
Road Transport Department in the UTC
As the number-counter moved forward quite quickly, I was pleasantly surprised at the speed at which each transaction was completed for the 34 dockets ahead of me.

I was pleasantly surprised that in less than 30 minutes, I was holding my renewed driving license and walking out the door!

While I had a relatively smooth experience, it was not the same for my sister who went to the UTC in an attempt to change the names on her utility bills from that of her late husband to her own.

She went to the UTC armed with multiple photocopies of her husband’s death certificate to present to each utility company as the basis for the name change and soon discovered that it was not the one-stop center for this particular procedure.

She was instead, advised to go to each individual utility company to complete this process.

I had the privilege of accompanying my sister on this quest and it was an eye-opening adventure where we experienced how our public services were still sadly lacking.

To be fair, our experience with Telekom Malaysia, the telephone company, was handled with compassion and efficiency at Kedai Telekom. And the procedure was completed without a hitch.

My sister, who had earlier gone to the Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) or National Electricity Company outlet at UTC for this name-change process, was given a set of forms to complete but the staff was not only vague in his instructions, he was also impatient. She was also told to go to the main TNB office for this transaction.

With forms completed, we arrived at the main TNB office at Jalan Yahya Awal and saw a queue in front of the Information and Enquiries counter.

Entrance to the One-Stop service center at the
Johor Baru City Council building
Instead of just joining the queue, I asked the staff if it was the queue to join because we already had completed the forms for the name-change procedure. She insisted that we must join the queue for them to check if the forms were completed correctly.

Only one staff was dealing with each enquiry and in the next few minutes, the expanding queue was blocking the main door. As there was no room for a straight line, the long queue had to snake to the side!

When it was finally my sister’s turn, I could understand her exasperation as the staff told her that she should do this transaction at the UTC. But (she told them) their staff at UTC had instructed my sister to complete the forms and come to the TNB main office!

When this staff explained how these documents would require Revenue Stamping, which should be done at the UTC, we had no alternative but to head back to the UTC.

I did the driving and we were back in the UTC again. But we imagined how challenging it would be for customers who depended on public transport and the heartache, extra time and expense incurred for this run-around!

The long and quickly expanding queue at the entrance
of the Tenaga Nasional Berhad main building at
Jalan Yahya Awal, Johor Baru
Back at the TNB outlet in the UTC, we had the misfortune of encountering a staff who was not only unsympathetic but also tactless.

We had already shuttled between the stamping office and the TNB outlet because we were unsure which part of the procedure should be done first. But finally this transaction was completed.

At Syarikat Ayer Johor (SAJ) or the Johor Water Company, my sister was put through yet another humiliating experience.

The authorities should make a list of requirements and attach it to the forms to be completed for each transaction. This list would be a helpful reference for customers to come with the complete list of requirements and not be subjected to running back and forth getting documents or details like the last meter-reading!

I observed the conversation between the staff and my sister and saw something was amiss. I didn’t have long to guess what was happening because the staff raised his voice, quite adamant that he could not help if she did not provide the last meter-reading.

If only there was a list of requirements provided, the customer – in this case, my sister who is a widow – need not suffer further heartache. So we had no alternative but to drive home to read the meter and submit the reading to them before this process could proceed.

As advised, we returned to the main SAJ office at Jalan Garuda. My sister was hopeful she should be able to complete this transaction smoothly here. But she again disappointed.

This process included closing the previous account in her late husband’s name but they were adamant that she produced her marriage certificate before they would refund the deposit to her. Tired with the day’s run-around, she appealed to the staff to accept her word but to no avail.

So once again, I drove my sister home to get her marriage certificate as proof before she received the deposit refund of a measly RM41.45!

A version of this was published in the November 2017 issue of The Iskandarian 

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