Villagers in a quandary as ECRL approaches
As many as 13 villages in Gombak may be affected by the East Coast Rail Link project.
Photographs by Djohan Shahrin
Gombak, located to the east of Selangor, is home to just under 950,000 residents according to a 2020 census.
Some spots lie in the way of the East Coast Rail Link or ECRL project, which is expected to span some 600km, linking Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu.
This patch used to be an orchard tended by the Orang Asli community in the area, but now lies fallow after a change in the main road leading to the ECRL workers' dorm.
Tok Ulang, the orchard owner, sits on a fallen rubber tree as he surveys the ruined land. He is still awaiting the remainder of his compensation payment from ECRL.
A worker leaves the toilet of the dormitory which now stands behind Tok Ulang's orchard.
A China Communications Construction Company or CCCC lorry passes through the Gombak-Karak highway for construction work at the Genting Tunnel near the workers' dorm in Batu 16, Gombak.
Local activist Yusof Sulaiman surveys conditions at the Batu 16 river after a landslide near the workers' dorm.
An aerial view of the ECRL construction site near Taman Permai Jaya, where heavy machinery is used to extract earth from the hills and chop down trees.
Houses in Desa Mukmin Warisan, Batu 7 Gombak are marked with red paint to show that they will be demolished to make way for the ECRL project.
Village leader Mohmad Najib Mokhtar shows the sign painted in red on his wall which was done without his knowledge or consent.
A woman carries her child as she stands next to another sign. Residents say they are in the dark about the project and only know that they have been told by the authorities to vacate their homes.
Activist Yusof Sulaiman urges the authorities to realign the rail so that the villages in Gombak will be left undisturbed.
A compilation of photos by Yusof Sulaiman showing standoffs between the authorities and ECRL workers, and the residents in March, May and June this year.
An aerial view of Taman Rawiyah Sulaiman, one of the areas that will be affected by the ECRL project.
A map showing the ECRL alignment passing through Taman Rawiyah Sulaiman Jaya and several other areas.
Founder Rawiyah Kamil recalls the history of Taman Rawiyah Sulaiman Jaya which was given as replacement land to 13 residents from the Malay village of Bumi Hijau Setapak, whose settlement was taken by the government for redevelopment in the late 1980s.
Rawiyah Kamil points to a newspaper clipping from 1992, detailing the efforts by her and her late husband, Sulaiman Yaakob, as well as the other villages to defend their land in Bumi Hijau Setapak.
A notice put up in the village after several trespassing incidents by the ECRL authorities.
Rawiyah Kamil cleans the orchard area that belonged to her husband and which will now be affected by the ECRL construction.
Yusof Sulaiman uses a rake to gather together the fallen leaves in his plantation, which he inherited from his father.
Yusof Sulaiman harvests ripe cempedak which he sells in Gombak.
Mohd Isa Ismail who has lived in Taman Rawiyah Sulaiman Jaya for more than 30 years. He was involved in the Bumi Hijau Setapak episode and was given replacement land in Batu 8, Gombak. He, too, is against the ECRL alignment through the village.
Yusof Sulaiman explains the alignment of the ECRL project to Mohd Isa Ismail.
Villagers sit and discuss their situation, as well as their plans for the days ahead if the ECRL project continues along its current trajectory.
Subscribe to our newsletter
To be updated with all the latest news and analyses daily.