KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — Residents of Jalan Abdullah in Bangsar have repeated their objections to a planned 32-storey residential development in their neighbourhood.

Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL) chairman Datuk M. Ali said it should not have been approved in the first place as no prior engagement was done with residents of Jalan Abdullah.

“Before the proposal of the project was approved, they should have met the residents. Not the other way around, approve the proposal and then talk to the residents,” Ali told Malay Mail when contacted.

Ali, who is also the Bukit Bandaraya Residents’ Association adviser, said the required traffic impact assessment (TIA), environmental impact assessment (EIA) and social impact assessment (SIA) were not conducted.

He also asserted that these assessments should include surrounding areas and not only Jalan Abdullah.

The nearly one acre plot for the development is now used as a car park serving patrons of nearby restaurants. It was originally meant for three detached homes.

Malay Mail was shown a 2018 sales and purchase agreement dated December 2018 that said the land has been acquired by a firm that subcontracted the development for the 32-floor serviced apartment project to another company

Ali said the group was not against development but did not believe Jalan Abdullah would be able to take the increased density of a high-rise project.

Aside from potential damage to the surroundings from the piling and earthworks needed to support such a project, he said the terrain in Jalan Abdullah was not suitable.

“Because there is a natural waterway in the area, it is just not safe to build a 32-storey high-rise on Jalan Abdullah.

“We don’t want another ‘Highland Towers’ incident in Kuala Lumpur,” he said, referring to the 1993 incident in which one of the three towers collapsed due to soil erosion and killed 48 people in the nation’s worst housing tragedy.

Residents fear ‘disasters’

Sharmini said the area suffered from low water pressure and expressed concern that this would worsen with a high-rise development project. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Sharmini said the area suffered from low water pressure and expressed concern that this would worsen with a high-rise development project. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

According to a long-time resident T. Sharmini, houses on Jalan Abdullah were built in the 1930s and were never designed to withstand the shocks of piling.

“As it is, several ‘disasters’ have happened on Jalan Abdullah. Within a year, the retaining wall of No. 7 fell twice, and this part the land plot that the project will be built on.

“This is without any development in the area, and the wall fell twice. The resident who lives in No. 5 is very worried that her house’s foundation will not be able to sustain such massive soil movement,” she told Malay Mail when contacted.

She said the area also suffered from low water pressure and expressed concern that this would worsen with a high-rise development project.

She added that the problem has already hampered the Fire and Rescue Department previously when it tried to extinguish residential fires here.

“One of the bungalow units was completely destroyed in the fire last year (August 2019), and recently this year in late February another fire broke out and consumed 70 per cent of another bungalow (No. 21).

“The firemen had to bring water in seven water tanks to put out the fire, just because the water pressure is too low. What will happen if they put a 32-storey high-rise here? We will get zero water pressure,” she said.

Sharmini also said a high-rise would worsen the already heavy traffic congestion caused by patrons of restaurants in the area, which already forced residents to take turns in order to access some roads.

Among restaurants that have opened recently on Jalan Kemuja are The Lankan Crabs, Apollo Dining and Azeta Kitchen.

Before them were Lisette’s Cafe and Bakery, Baba Low, Transparent Coffee, Fierce Curry House and Southern Rock Seafood.

She also expressed suspicion with how the project has sped along, alleging that soil testing was done in December 2018 when the developer only put in its application the previous month.

“Suddenly now we are finding out that they are trying to get the development order approved,” she said.

She added that in a September townhall at the Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil’s service centre, Kuala Lumpur City Hall representatives said no development order has been given for the project and that they were open for further engagements with the residents in Jalan Abdullah.

“That was the first engagement they had with residents and it is worrying that they came with an artist’s impression of the project.

“We really hope that they will reconsider this project based on our objections that we have submitted,” she said.

Earlier in February, Sharmini said that residents already faced a proposed mixed-use development by SP Setia Bhd on a piece of land adjoining Jalan Abdullah.

In May 2019, Jalan Abdullah residents were informed of a proposal to build a three-storey power station (PMU) adjacent to their houses, used to support the mixed-use development.

After strong objections and with the intervention of the Lembah Pantai MP and SKL, the PMU has been shifted to Jalan Bangsar/Jalan Rakyat instead.

However, since then, a 15-storey government quarters has been completed by SP Setia, as part of its land-swap agreement with the National Health institute. The building is located right beside several residents’ homes.