KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Residents of Jalan Abdullah have called on the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to conduct a full investigation to determine whether there is a natural waterway beneath their housing area. 

This call is being made two years after their first objection to a proposed 34-storey development which will be sandwiched between their existing homes, a resident said on behalf of Jalan Abdullah homeowners.  

"We have been arguing over this matter for the last two years, and have done the necessary to request that checks be done on whether there is a natural waterway in this area. 

"Whether there is a natural waterway will determine the safety of residents should the building of a 34-storey luxury condominium be allowed here.

"As the matter now no longer involves only one project developer, we really hope that DBKL will look into our report on the recent flooding possibly caused by the natural waterway," said longtime resident T. Ksharmini.

To date, 10 affected house owners have lodged a report with DBKL regarding the sudden flooding they experienced lately, and have yet to receive any feedback. 

Is there a natural waterway?

The residents of Jalan Abdullah are certain there is a natural waterway, with memories of it going back as far as their childhood days. 

"Some of the residents recall there was a stream here when they were younger. Some say it is almost the size of a river. 

"So all we are asking for the authorities to do is to run another investigation of the area to ascertain whether there is a natural waterway since they have insisted that there is none but our checks told us otherwise," said Ksharmini. 

According to Ksharmini, it was at a meeting last December where the independent checker appointed by the project developer and the representative from Department of Mineral and Geoscience (JMG) both said there was no natural waterway in the area. 

"The independent checker said that the nearest waterway in the area is the Klang River. 

"We were surprised at the failure of both parties to identify the presence of the natural waterway in the area and equally surprised was the representative from JMG, that we have in our possession a document from JMG itself confirming the presence of a natural waterway in the area," she said. 

She added that residents were also shocked by the fact that the information regarding the presence of the natural waterway was presented on two occasions.

The first was during a meeting held on March 27, 2021 at Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil's office in the presence of DBKL officers and the project developer.

The second was via banners placed in residents' compounds showing a map by JMG and the damage caused by the natural waterway to the structure of an apartment (Sri Bangsar) that is located along Lengkok Abdullah. 

"We also spoke to the workers on site where the flooded area was located, and they told us that there is a natural water source underground. 

"This worries us more now as the construction nearby has caused much damage as it is," said Ksharmini, referring to the slope adjacent to their homes which has seen soil movement. 

In November 2019, an uprooted rambutan tree fell onto Ksharmini’s house, damaging the roof and some floor tiles.

The soil erosion started in 2018 during the rainy season, she said.

According to the long-time resident, the area is suffering from severe erosion due to the felling and uprooting of fully matured trees. 

This was further aggravated by the construction works of the 15-storey 24-unit government quarters on an area which was a green reserve. 

Ksharmini also added that in July 2014, the Unit Geosains, Jabatan Mineral dan Geosains Malaysia, Selangor/Wilayah Persekutuan confirmed the presence of a natural waterway in Jalan Abdullah /Lengkok Abdullah, which is in the immediate vicinity of Federal Hill.

Project disapproval 

Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL) chairman Datuk M. Ali had previously said the project — a 32-storey high-rise — should not have been approved in the first place as no prior engagement was done with residents of Jalan Abdullah.

Ali too had emphasised on several occasions that it is not safe to build a high-rise on Jalan Abdullah because there is a natural waterway in the area.

He had also warned that should the project be approved, it could end up as another ‘Highland Towers’ incident, referring to the 1993 incident in Kuala Lumpur where one of three apartment blocks collapsed due to soil erosion and killed 48 people in the nation’s worst housing tragedy.

The project in question will take over a plot of land that was occupied by a carwash and car park serving patrons of restaurants in the vicinity.

The plot of land measures just under an acre and was originally occupied by three bungalows.

This plot of land is directly connected to an ongoing mega project by SP Setia, as Jalan Abdullah borders the former National Institutes of Health complex on Jalan Rumah Sakit Bangsar, which in turn borders Bukit Persekutuan.

In a sales and purchase agreement dated December 2018 provided by residents, and viewed by Malay Mail, it states that the said land plots were acquired by Bangsar Rising Sdn Bhd for the proposed 32-storey serviced apartment project.

Ksharmini resides in a house, which was built in 1935, that her family has preserved over the years.

Her home is only one among many other pre-war houses occupied by generations of families that could be destroyed or severely affected should the high-rise project be approved. 

Yet another concern

On top of this, Ksharmini had again highlighted residents’ concerns regarding a proposed three-storey power station (PMU) which had been relocated to a site that residents had protested against previously.

In May 2019, Jalan Abdullah residents were informed of a proposal to build a PMU adjacent to their houses.

After strong objections and with the intervention of the Lembah Pantai MP and SKL, the PMU, as agreed by relevant parties, was relocated to Jalan Bangsar/Jalan Rakyat instead.  

“But in the amendments, we saw that they moved it back to the originally proposed location, and that is directly next to my house.

“We have yet to receive any feedback from DBKL regarding this matter,” Ksharmini said. 

The PMU, as informed to residents by Tenaga Nasional Berhad back in May 2019, should it be built adjacent to the residential houses of Jalan Abdullah would take up one acre of land and its height would be equivalent to a normal three-storey house. 

As a result of DBKL’s silence on correcting the location gazetted in the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (Alt 3) (Pt II) to be placed adjacent to the Jalan Abdullah houses instead of previously promised frontage of Jalan Bangsar/Jalan Rakyat, residents of Jalan Abdullah will be putting up a banner protest, to demand an immediate correction of the plan.