RM1.55bil highway project gets green light

Aerial view of the Ampang Forest Reserve with markings showing the proposed alignment of the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road - Eastern Route. A total of 106.65ha will be used for the proposed project.

The controversial East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) project has been approved by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) albeit with several conditions in place.

Council president Abdul Hamid Hussain said the project was approved during a special One Stop Centre (OSC) committee meeting on Aug 12.

“Some of the conditions that the project developer Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd (AZRB) must adhere to include submitting the latest Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) study and verified by an independent body. A latest study of the Social Impact Assessment must also be submitted to the council.

“Another crucial condition is AZRB must also take into account improvements suggested by the residents in the proposed construction of the highway,” said Abdul Hamid.

He said the highway builder must also comply with approval conditions set by the Drainage and Irrigation Department, the Public Works Department and MPAJ’s Planning Department.

The approval is for Phase One of the expressway project, which is a 24.16km stretch from the Sungai Long Interchange to the Ukay Perdana Interchange.

The expressway was gazetted in the 2011 MPAJ Draft Local Plan 2020 (RT MPAJ).

At a cost of RM1.55bil, the highway is designed as a closed toll system and with five toll plazas at each of the planned five interchanges.

Once completed, the EKVE will make up the final stretch of the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR) system.

The project drew public outcry when it was made known that the Ampang forest reserve would be cut down.

The Selangor Forestry Department in February 2014 announced a proposal to degazette 106.65ha of the forest reserve for construction of the EKVE.

A proposed Phase Two of the project was cancelled as it would have cut through the Ulu Gombak forest reserve north of the Klang Gates Dam, which is a water catchment area.

It was also announced in February this year that the company had received approval from the Federal Government to start work on the construction of the highway.

MPAJ councillor Ahmad Sabri Abu Bakar said the proposal was endorsed by the councillors provided the conditions stipulated were met.

The congested MRR2 is a normal sight on a working day. Residents are worried that the EKVE will compound traffic congestion as it is an arterial road.

“The OSC committee, which comprise various government agencies, set the conditions and the councillors were satisfied with them.

“We have no objections as long as all the conditions are met,” he said, adding construction of the highway was expected to commence soon.

Sabri, who is also councillor for Zone 5 Bukit Antarabangsa, said the developers had also agreed to upgrading works as a contribution in corporate social responsibility.

“A 0.35km stretch of Jalan AU5 will be widened while Jalan Ukay Perdana will be expanded to six lanes from the current four,” he said.

Residents of Bukit Antarabangsa in Ampang are crying foul over the state government’s and MPAJ’s handling of their objections against the construction of the EKVE.

The Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Task Force (BARTF), a coalition of 32 residents associations within the enclave of Bukit Antarabangsa, Ukay Perdana and Ukay Bistari, said the various authorities had shown a lack of transparency, integrity and professionalism in addressing their concerns against the project.

The residents had earlier voiced their objections against the project for fears of compounding the traffic congestion near their houses.

They had proposed for an elevated highway that would bypass Jalan Ukay Perdana.

BARTF facilitator Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman said despite several attempts to engage with Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali’s office, MPAJ and its councillors, residents had been frustrated with the lack of communication.

“During a meeting organised by Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) and attended by MPAJ, AZRB and residents on July 1, it was agreed that a copy of the TIA would be given for us to evaluate and revert back to them within 60 days. Within that time, it was also agreed that no decision would be made on the project.

“But now we find out that the project has been pushed through the OSC committee meeting and approved with conditions,” he said.

Rafick said an independent review of the TIA was conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) on behalf of the task force late last month.

“Based on their findings, there were several erroneous information in the original TIA, the most glaring of which is that it was done in 2012.

“According to the guidelines, the time lapse between the dates of a TIA study and its submission should be no more than two years.

“What is even more shocking is that the original TIA was done during the Chinese New Year festive holiday (Jan 23 and 24, 2012) when the volume of traffic was significantly less than normal.

“How could the OSC and the councillors have approved the project with the incomplete information?” he questioned.

Another BARTF facilitator, Brig-GeneralDatuk Mohd Arshad Raji said the approval of the project was a betrayal to the residents.

“We are the affected residents. How can they not have consulted nor informed us of the decision to approve the project?” he asked, adding that the residents would continue to protest against the project. - By The Star