KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Residents of Jalan Abdullah in Bangsar were shocked when construction of a luxury condominium project nearby began in mid-May despite their earlier protest to authorities about “the existence of an underground natural waterway” in the area.
They said work on the 32-storey Bangsar Rising Sdn Bhd luxury condominium should not have started if a full investigation on the underground waterway has yet to be carried out.
“We have not received any update from the authorities, whether or not they have conducted the investigations. The last engagement we had was in March when we were called for an earthwork briefing,” said longtime resident T. Ksharmini.
Residents of 10 houses along Jalan Abdullah had lodged reports with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), highlighting safety issues as they experienced flooding in their compounds.
In a report by Malay Mail on April 25, the residents said they were certain there is a natural waterway, with some of them remembering a stream in the area when they were children.
Based on this, they had called on DBKL to run another investigation of the area to ascertain whether there is a natural waterway.
“They [JMG] have insisted that there is none but our checks told us otherwise. 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.
“But because there are two contradicting reports by the JMG, one which says there is presence of a natural waterway in the area and one which says there isn't, that is why we are very worried. How is it that there are two different reports indicating two different things?” said Ksharmini.
She said that 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 and 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.
At present, she said work to build a showroom for the high-rise project is ongoing at bungalow lot 7 and 9 off Jalan Kemuja, the road adjacent to Jalan Abdullah.
“It was the workers who were working on the showroom who told us about the underground waterway. They told us that there is a natural water source underground as they discovered it from their drilling works,” she added.
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.
Since piling work started, Ksharmini and her neighbours who are retirees have had to endure the deafening noise throughout the day.
“They start work at 7am, and end at 7pm. So imagine an 89-year-old retiree who lives next to the compound, what kind of agony she has to face.
“You know what the developers did? They offered to make sound proofing windows for her, and also gave her earplugs. But it hasn’t helped, she can still hear the loud banging sound from the construction site and so while the piling is happening she will stay at the other end of the house,” she said.
Residents have since lodged reports about the noise pollution but have yet to receive any concrete feedback from the authorities.
“We lodged the report on May 31, but there was no reply, and so we lodged another report two weeks later, and we only saw a feedback on the DBKL website saying they have issued a notice — no indication of what notice — and that DBKL had asked the developer to prepare a ‘noise report’ (laporan bunyi bising).
“Even if the developer comes up with a report, our concern is the safety of the residents on Jalan Abdullah, fearing a landslide and our house structure falling apart from ground movement caused by the construction works of such a massive project,” said Ksharmini.
Ksharmini said houses along Jalan Abdullah were built during the 1930s, and these are old structures which may not be able to withstand the type of ground movement caused by the construction.
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 where Bangsar Rising is to be built measures just under an acre and was originally occupied by three bungalows and 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.
Since the flooding which occurred in April, Ksharmini said residents notice that there are retention ponds built by SP Setia on their side of the land.
As described by several residents, some of the houses on Jalan Abdullah are currently being sandwiched between two massive development projects — Bangsar Rising and SP Setia.
“We were not informed of the retention pond, and now that we have a visual of it, we want to know why they are being made? We are not sure of how many, but we found out that there is at least one that has been made.
“When we asked the developers, they asked us how we saw the retention pond? It does not matter how we saw it, the fact that it is there, we need an explanation,” she said.
Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL) chairman Datuk M. Ali had also previously said the project should not have been approved in the first place without prior engagement with residents of Jalan Abdullah.
Ali had stated on several occasions that it is unsafe to build a high-rise on Jalan Abdullah because there is a natural waterway in the area.
Yet another concern that has to be addressed is a proposed three-storey power station (PMU). In May 2019, Jalan Abdullah residents were informed of a proposal to build a PMU adjacent to their houses.
However, 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.
“We have yet to get any feedback from the authorities regarding moving it back to the agreed location.
“But from what I have collected, it was moved back to the location we protested against as it would be shared by the 32-storey high-rise project,” said Ksharmini.
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 to demand an immediate correction of the plan.
“This is not right and we are still awaiting for DBKL’s answer on this. We still have not heard from them, although no work has started,” Ksharmini said.
Malay Mail contacted DBKL on all of the above and has been told a statement will be issued shortly.