Help Larkin Gardens

Dad [Right] took us to see our new house in Larkin Garden
Resolve problems at Larkin Gardens

When I shared my memories of Larkin Gardens (Boost Police patrols in Larkin Gardens, please, NST Johor Streets, 23 October 2009), I also highlighted two pressing issues.  

One was the need for more Police patrols and protection because of rampant robberies in the neighbourhood.  The other was the desperate call to revamp common areas like roads, drains and the sewerage system.

In front of our house in Larkin Gardens, 1961
[Left to Right] Ruby, Peggy, Pearly, cousin Howard
with his brother, Richard [squatting in front!]
That family who was suffering the inconvenience of problems with the sewage system in their home since August 2009 contacted the City Council authorities and their workers responded several times.  They also inspected each house on the road, including ours because the system is linked in adjacent houses and if sewage problems occurred in one home, it was only a matter of time before it happened in the next houses.  As this family continued to experience clogged toilets, they wrote-in and called the relevant authorities but despite follow-ups for years, nothing concrete was done to help them rectify this stinking situation.

Because of the inaction on the part of the authorities and the critical need of the essential toilet facility by senior citizens in their home, this family was compelled to spend a huge sum of money to install their own septic tank.  Since the sewage system is linked to the adjacent houses, it didn’t take long before the second family started experiencing similar problems and this will eventually have a chain reaction in the whole neighbourhood.  Not everyone can afford to install their own septic tanks and when this affected family approached the City Council authorities for help, they were advised to write in but from the first family’s bad experience with the authorities, homeowners here are worried that their follow-up may result in zero action again!

My sisters, [From Left] Ruby and Pearly,
and our brother, Kenneth [Right] in our Larkin home
When our family shifted into our new home in Larkin Gardens in 1961, it was known as a “housing trust” with a reputation as a safe and comfortable place to live in.  Now homes that once were occupied by retired Government officers and Dato’s and their families have been resold to new owners and many houses are renovated and upgraded.  While new private developments are happening around us, common areas like roads, drains and the sewage system in Larkin Gardens have hardly been maintained or improved and have fallen into a sad state of disrepair.

This residential area is more than 50 years old and public drains that border the roads are also badly in need of repair.  Damaged drains just allow water to flow into the ground and over the years, the gaps around these damaged drains are widening with erosion.  I’m no geologist but common sense tells me that in the long term, such poor drainage will only weaken and destroy the structure of the terrain. 

My sisters and I [seated] with tricycle we shared
to play in our Larkin Garden compound
There must be a labyrinth below the network of damaged drains here because on some hot days, I see large monitor lizards sunning themselves on the grassy verge by the drains.  Sometimes when I alight from my car parked near our front gates, I may hear a loud swishing sound and when I turn towards that noise, I get a glimpse of the gray, scaly tail of a monitor lizard rushing off to disappear under a culvert!

Not only has the landscape and residents changed in Larkin Gardens, security has also vastly deteriorated.  Besides the incidents I listed in my previous article, recently homes were broken-into and ransacked during the day, while the occupants were away at work.  Another neighbour who used to keep their large aluminum cooking pots in the backyard had them stolen at night.

Three sisters in Larkin Gardens, 1963
One morning recently when my dad went out to collect the newspapers that we get delivered daily, he noticed that the drains in our garden were uncovered.  At first he thought that mum had removed the metal grille covers to scrub the drains – which she does regularly – but he soon realized something was wrong because the covers were not stacked nearby.  Our suspicions were confirmed when we discovered that the intruders not only stole the metal grille covers which we had for almost 50 years but also stole the spare, full gas cylinder from our storeroom!

It is exciting to see private apartment and condo developments like Larkin Residences, Larkin Perdana and Larkin Aman being built here and piling work is in progress for the latest project, Larkin Heights.  Even though this area is known as Taman Dato Onn, the various residential projects still bear the original nostalgic name, Larkin. 

While private companies develop new projects here, I just hope that Larkin Lama built around Jalan Sentosa with Larkin Gardens along Jalan Dato’ Jaffar and Larkin Jaya located after the Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium – all part of one of Johor Baru’s earliest residential area – will not be neglected. 

With these new developments, Larkin Sentral terminal and wet market, the stadium and schools nearby, Jalan Dato’ Jaffar has been expanded into a dual carriageway to serve a great deal of daily traffic.  In all the busyness of growing the city into a modern metropolis, I’m looking forward to the prompt and positive response from the City Council authorities to solve the recurring sewage problem and upgrade the infrastructure here.  I also seek the commitment to more Police patrols and their consistent visibility that will certainly make Larkin Gardens a safer and comfortable place to live in again.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 30 July 2012


The neighbour who is currently having problems with their sewage system submitted a letter by hand to the MBJB authorities in the morning of 1 August 2012.  Around mid-morning, a team of workers from the Drainage section of MBJB arrived in Larkin Gardens to check on the sewage pipes in their house and the neighbouring houses, including ours!  This prompt response is quite impressive!  I just hope they will get to the bottom of this problem and provide a solution to the stinking situation.


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