KUALA LUMPUR: Collapsed walls and tractors sinking into the soft soil are just some of the incidents which have caused residents on Jalan Abdullah in Bangsar to be concerned about proposed development projects in the area.
Their fears have been heightened by the recent collapse of a partially built condominium block in Taman Desa.
The Jalan Abdullah area houses some of the oldest remaining residential properties in Bangsar. Comprising mostly bungalows and semi-detached houses, most of the properties were built between 1929 and 1940.
Residents are concerned that the houses would not be able to withstand the impact of major construction work. They are also worried that the narrow Jalan Abdullah would not be able to cater to commercial activities or the increase in density due to the proposed high-rise buildings.
“Nothing has been revealed to us and we don’t know anything about the structure of the development projects, what buildings they will have and how traffic will be managed,” said M Ali, deputy chairman of non-governmental organisation Save Kuala Lumpur, at a press conference today.
“These projects were approved by the Pakatan Harapan government. They were shouting out against this when they were in opposition but they are silent now,” he said.
Early last year, residents found out that under the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, the area had been gazetted from “residential” to “major commercial”.
The residents said the area’s infrastructure was meant for a low-density residential area and would not be able to handle a sizable increase in traffic volume.
Although no development orders had been issued, among the projects the residents are anxious about is a 21ha mixed development project on Federal Hill.
The residents said as a mixed development, the project had no limit on the population density. They claimed that the project would comprise 15 to 18 towers, with the tallest at 80 storeys high.
Ali said the residents only found out about the proposed projects by chance when they went to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to attend to other matters.
Upon inquiring with DBKL, they were told that new zoning laws did not require signboards to inform neighbouring owners of potential development projects.
He said that no traffic, social or environmental impact assessments have been shared with the residents.
FMT is getting comments from the developer of the project on Federal Hill.
Claiming that the KL City Plan 2020 had been “mutilated” and “butchered”, Ali said the fact that it was currently in court meant that all projects under the plan should also be put on hold.
A group of concerned residents in Kuala Lumpur have filed for a judicial review of the KL City Plan 2020, which is pending in the High Court.
They have asked Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad to issue a moratorium on all new development projects in Kuala Lumpur because of the judicial review application.
Residents said that over the past few years, there had been at least two cases of retention walls collapsing due to construction work by other companies – heightening their fears that the soil was not able to withstand major construction work.
Structural damage to a bungalow during the construction of a high-rise condominium along nearby Lengkok Abdullah led to the demolition of a bungalow. The site is now a car park.
“I live next to a proposed 32-storey condominium and I’m worried about this development,” said Ratnasothy Kandiah, 87, a resident on Jalan Abdullah for the past eight decades.
“The roads in the area are already very narrow and the soil is so soft that a neighbour’s wall recently collapsed,” she said.
Some of the houses next to hers are more than 70 years old and do not have concrete beams which will allow them to withstand the impact from piling work during major construction.
Another long-time resident, J Jegathesan, said a tractor had sunk into the soft soil during construction work next to his house two years ago. He said the work also led to his retention wall collapsing.
Referring to last Friday’s incident in Taman Desa, where two Bangladeshi workers were trapped for hours after the 6th floor of the 37-storey condominium block they were working on collapsed, Jegathesan said the incident should serve as a warning to developers.
“It’s an eye-opener and a warning not to rush into things,” he said.
“When the next collapse happens, we will all be held responsible as we knew this area was not stable.”