JOHOR BARU - The Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) has replaced all stolen metal gratings covering drains and manholes with composite slab drain covers since 2008.
Mayor Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohd Dewam said it was a right move, as the composite slab drain covers had no commercial value.
"We have also received positive feedback from ratepayers for making the change," he said.
MBJB replaced the metal gratings with composite slab after the death of a pedestrian who fell into an uncovered manhole in February 2008.
Koh Siang Lee, 63, slipped into the drain near the Bukit Saujana flats during a Chingay parade and suffered head injuries. She died nine days later.
Johor Baru Central Municipal Council (MPJBT) president Salehuddin Hassan said a team of technicians had been assigned to conduct spot checks on missing drain covers in the city's east and west zones daily.
The east zone covers Ulu Tiram, Desa Cemerlang, Johor Jaya and Plentong while the west zone includes Gelang Patah, Skudai, Nusajaya and Lima Kedai, he said.
Pasir Gudang Municipal Council engineer Abd Majid Abd Sapihe said ratepayers were now more alert about missing drain covers.
"WhatsApp and Facebook users are also playing a role in disseminating information on missing drain covers, so we can deploy our men to replace them as soon as possible," he said.
In George Town, businessman Henry Lee, 54, recalled the nasty experience of breaking his ribs after falling into a monsoon drain in Bayan Baru in 2004.
"I was off from work for two months. Exposed manholes or uncovered drains are even more dangerous at night in dimly-lit areas," he added.
A teacher who wished to be identified only as Wong, 35, said monsoon drains and manholes, especially those near schools, should be covered at all times as children playing in the area could easily lose their footing and fall into them.
"If a bicycle can fit into a drain or a manhole, the dangers are far greater for a child," she said.
Penang municipal councillor Lim Boon Beng said he would discuss the matter with the council's engineering department.
In Malacca, fibre-reinforced steel (FRS) plates will replace metal coverings over manholes and drains to prevent theft by scrap metal thieves.
Malacca Mayor Datuk Zainal Hussin said the council was currently testing the FRS covers at Jalan Bukit Baru, where the volume of traffic is high.