Jalan Abdullah residents in KL protest against plans to construct a 32-storey serviced apartment

Soo Wern Jun
Jalan Abdullah residents pose for a group photo after a press conference at the Bukit Bandaraya Community Hall in Kuala Lumpur February 18 ,2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Residents of Jalan Abdullah here are up in arms over a proposed 32-storey development which will be sandwiched between their existing homes.

In a press conference today, they said the project’s construction could potentially damage existing houses, some of which date back to the 1930s.

A resident, T. Ksharmini, claimed that no prior engagement was done with residents over the proposed development.

“We only found out about the project when tenants who are currently occupying that plot of land told us that they are to vacate by April this year,” Ksharmini told reporters when met after a press conference held by Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL) today.

Currently, the plot of land is 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.

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

The land will be developed by Mega Capital Development, according to residents.

However, the proposed development has yet to receive its development order.

“We went to get more information from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and found out about this proposed 32-storey building which contains 179 units of serviced apartments,” she said.

Resident Ksharmini Thanigasalam (centre) and Selamatkan KL chairman M. Ali (right) during a press conference at the Bukit Bandaraya Community Hall in Kuala Lumpur February 18, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Ksharmini resides in a house, which was built during the 1950s, that her family has preserved over the years.

She added that residents are already faced with a proposed mixed-use development by SP Setia Bhd on a piece of land that adjoins 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.

After strong objections and with the intervention of Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil and SKL, the PMU will be placed at Jalan Bangsar/Jalan Rakyat instead.  

During the press conference, SKL vice-chairman Datuk M. Ali said former Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib had promised residents in a 2013 meeting that the lane for houses 25, 27, 29 and 31 of Jalan Abdullah will remain closed as a cul-de-sac.

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.

“Houses in this housing area are heritage homes. Some are more than 70 years old and do not have concrete roof beams.

“These houses will not be able to withstand the heavy piling work during the construction of a high-rise at such close proximity,” he said.

Ali added that congestion in the area has worsened since the construction of other high-rise developments including UOA Bangsar, Maybank Etiqa, Gaya Bangsar and Residensi 38.

“If they build this 32-storey building, can you imagine the congestion in this area?

“As it is, traffic is already bad with patrons to restaurants on Jalan Kemuja parking illegally along Jalan Abdullah.

The housing area in Lorong Abdullah, Bangsar, where a 32-storey building has been proposed to be built February 18,2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

“The roads in this housing area were originally built to cater for a low-density residential area. They are already unable to cope with current commercial activities; therefore, no further high-rise projects should be allowed in this area,” he said.

According to Annette Wilson, a resident of Lorong Abdullah, her house is currently surrounded by three parking lots that cater to the patrons of restaurants in the area.

Popular restaurants in the area include Lisette’s Cafe and Bakery, Baba Low, Transparent Coffee, Fierce Curry House, Southern Rock Seafood and Zoe Bangsar.

“The area is already too congested, and we are hearing that there are more restaurants to be opened.

“How will the narrow roads in this area accommodate these developments? The new restaurants will be in existing shoplots, but parking will continue to be a problem. What are you thinking, building this 32-storey building?” she added.

Another longtime resident, Ratnasothy Kandiah, who is 87 this year, said her house would definitely not be able to withstand the construction that is happening right next to her home.

“Imagine a 32-storey building next to a landed property.

“Why were we not informed about this? What is the government hiding from us?” she said.

Ratnasothy’s house was passed down from her grandparents and she uses their furniture to this day.

Previously, she said developers have even approached her to sell her house.

Former Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) deputy-director general
Datuk J. Jegathesan, who is also a resident of Jalan Abdullah, said he has lived there since his father passed away during the 1950s.

“The house was built by my grandparents long ago. I moved in later when my father passed away. This place holds many memories.

“We are very worried that the land is not suitable for a high-rise building as such. Back in the day, when they wanted to build other buildings here, the tractor sunk into the ground, because the land was too soft.

“We are worried similar mishaps could happen if they decide to build a high-rise of that capacity in the area,” he said.

Last November, 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, said Ksharmini.

Popular restaurants in the area include Lisette’s Cafe and Bakery, Baba Low, Transparent Coffee, Fierce Curry House, Southern Rock Seafood and Zoe Bangsar. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Checks done by residents have found that there is a natural waterway in the area.

“We found that on the other side of the 15-storey government quarters, there have been several mudslides causing severe damage and emergency slope maintenance had to be carried out.

“The local authority needs to investigate the stability of the hill and order SP Setia to do the needful to ensure that development is done with proper safety measures,” said Ali.

Reiterating residents’ stand that no further major development should be allowed in the area, Ali cited several incidents which could prove the area is unable to withstand major construction work.

The incidents include the retaining wall of a house on Jalan Abdullah collapsing during the construction of a parking facility, as well as the construction of high-rise condominium Sri Bangsar on Lengkok Abdullah that caused structural damage to neighbouring bungalows that were subsequently sold and demolished to make way for a car park.

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