Damasara-Semantan elevated highway project ‘forced’ on residents, dialogue told

The crowd at a dialogue session with Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur Datuk Nor Hisham A. Dahlan on the Elevated Highway from the junction of the Sprint Highway and Jalan Maarof to Jalan Semantan, May 1, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
The crowd at a dialogue session with Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur Datuk Nor Hisham A. Dahlan on the Elevated Highway from the junction of the Sprint Highway and Jalan Maarof to Jalan Semantan, May 1, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, May — A Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officer was stumped when an elderly man asked if the Jalan Damansara-Jalan Semantan elevated highway can be halted during a dialogue on the project today.

In a room of about 90 residents and residents association representatives from Bangsar and Bukit Damansara, the man, who identified himself as “Mr Thanarayu”, had asked via the microphone on whether the project can be stopped, and what is the cost in terms of compensation should it be halted.

When Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Civil Engineering and Urban Transportation senior deputy director Sabudin Mohd Salleh indicated that they have taken note of his question, the man said: “No, I can only go to the next one (question)... if it cannot be stopped, you tell me it cannot be stopped.

After several seconds of silence from Sabudin and a traffic consultant engaged by the elevated highway developers, he said: “Okay, it cannot be stopped, so you’re giving us the elevated highway and it is a ‘forced’ elevated highway.”

The man then asked where the two ends of the elevated highway will connect to the existing roads, stressing that there will be traffic congestion at the two ends, regardless of where the connection points are.

“It will be a mess, the whole of Bangsar, as (Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur group deputy chairman) Datuk M. Ali has said, will be a mess.

“[...] If you really want to solve this problem not just in Damansara Heights, in Bangsar and the whole of the Sprint highway, even all the way to Puchong, this project must be stopped. Can you have the courage to stop this project?” Thanarayu added.

Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL) had reportedly questioned in a report by Free Malaysia Today on April 5, the appearance of a DBKL signboard outside the Damansara MRT Station, which indicated that the RM211 million development will proceed despite Ali claiming that the parties involved have promised more meetings with residents living near the project if it was revived.

Sabudin had earlier told the group that the queries posted in the dialogue will be recorded and addressed.

The attendees had written down their names and contact details at the registration area before the session, which was organised by DBKL, at the request of Woman, Family and Community Development deputy minister, Hannah Yeoh, who is Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, and Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil.

Hannah Yeoh speaks during a dialogue session with Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur Datuk Nor Hisham A. Dahlan on the Elevated Highway from the junction of the Sprint Highway and Jalan Maarof to Jalan Semantan, May 1, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Hannah Yeoh speaks during a dialogue session with Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur Datuk Nor Hisham A. Dahlan on the Elevated Highway from the junction of the Sprint Highway and Jalan Maarof to Jalan Semantan, May 1, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

The MPs and KL Mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan were also present.

Another attendee, who did not reveal his name, suggested to Nor Hisham that the project needs independent consultants, pointing out that “even today, we are being briefed by people with vested interests”.

Other attendees also voiced their grievances about different ongoing projects that are allegedly affecting their neighbourhoods.

The mayor then responded by saying he will be calling for an immediate discussion with all the stakeholders involved in the elevated highway project. 

“Whoever sits in the mayor’s office, he has to take responsibility (for all ongoing issues), and should not blame his predecessor,” Nor Hisham said, assuring the residents that he will also address the other issues presented today.

Yeoh also expressed disappointment at the result of today’s dialogue, saying that despite this being the fifth engagement between DBKL as well as the developers and the residents, their queries have not been properly answered.

“We (Fahmi and I) requested for this taklimat (briefing) because the residents want to know exactly who is bearing the costs to fund the infrastructure upgrade,” she told reporters after the dialogue, adding that she and Fahmi will be raising these matters in the upcoming cabinet meeting.

According to newspaper The Star in March last year, then-Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had reportedly announced the building of the 1.34km three-lane Jalan Damansara-Jalan Semantan elevated highway in a bid to ease traffic congestion in the area.

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