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Friday, August 12, 2011

Govt to acquire 600 lots of land for MRT project

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will be acquiring between 500 to 600 lots of private land for the My Rapid Transit (MRT), which is about 20% of the total land area needed.

Of these, 250 lots will be in Kuala Lumpur. The private lots would comprise residential, commercial and vacant land, a source familiar with the project said.

“The balance 70% to 80% of land required is government land,” he said at a public hearing held at Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd office in Bangsar. Yesterday's session was for land owners along Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, which is part of the popular Chinatown area. Their properties will located above part of the 9.5km underground stretch of the MRT which runs from Jalan Duta to Maluri, Cheras.

The Sg Buloh-Kajang line will run 51km. The multi-billion ringgit project is touted to be the largest, and potentially the most expensive, civil infrastructure project undertaken by the Government as part of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). It will have 27 elevated stations and seven underground stations from KL Sentral to Maluri stretch.

About 80 people attended the jam-packed meeting at Prasarana's office to voice their grouses and submit a letter of protest against stretches of the underground portion of the MRT that will come under the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

Under the Act, if the Government tunnels under a certain tract of land, it must acquire the properties above, thus compelling owners to vacate their premises.

The impending acquisition has raised concerns as it involves heritage buildings, some as old as 100 years. About 20 to 30 buildings will be torn down, a few of them being Kuala Lumpur landmarks such as Yook Woo Hin restaurant, Lok Ann Hotel, and Yan Keng Benevolent Dramatic Association building. Other larger buildings to be acquired include the old Klang bus station, formerly known as Foch Avenue, Plaza Warisan and UDA Ocean.

Prasarana project director Zulkifli Yusoff, who chaired the hearing, said land acquisition was unavoidable, adding that it was part of the Government's urban renewal plan.

“You cannot stop the acquisition,” he told the land owners.

The acquisition cost for the private land is not yet known as the prices have to assessed by the Valuation Department of the Ministry of Finance. Several meetings on valuation and compensation would be held with the private land owners beginning the middle of this month, sources say.

At the hearing, Yusoff said the Government was not destroying Chinatown but merely renewing some lots. He said Prasarana would conduct dilapidation surveys on the affected buildings before, during and after the construction process as mandated by law.

The initial ground works to prepare for the underground tunnelling has already started in three locations, Sg Buloh, Jalan Duta and Cochrane area.

Sources said tenders for the actual underground construction works would be called at the end of the year.

The tunnels will be 20 to 30 m underground, or 40 m if it has to go under the SMART tunnel. Tunnelling works should be completed by 2015 as the entire MRT has a 2016 deadline for completion.

By The Star

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