Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Residents question silence from elected reps over revival of axed highway

Most have not responded to concerns about the PJD Link, which critics say will displace long-time residents and businesses and increase noise pollution along with other environmental and health hazards.

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Residents in Petaling Jaya opposed to a plan to bring back an axed highway project have questioned the lack of support from several elected representatives whose areas will be among the worst affected.

For several weeks, protest has been growing against the plan to proceed with the Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link), the routes of which are similar to the controversial Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), scrapped in 2015 by then-Selangor menteri besar Mohamed Azmin Ali following strong public pressure.

But apart from Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, there has been little noise from politicians to lend weight to these protests.

“So far, only Maria has made her objection to the proposed highway; others are either elegantly silent or ambivalent,” said Josh Hong, a resident from Section 17 – one of the areas that will be affected by the 34km elevated highway.

Checks by MalaysiaNow showed residents putting up banners to protest the PJD Link at major landmarks including the Federal Highway.

Many residents have also hung banners proclaiming “No PJD Link” outside their homes.

A man walks past banners in multiple languages objecting to the PJD Link along Jalan Harapan in Petaling Jaya. Residents have been up in arms over the highway project which will cut through various parts of the district.

The PJD Link is being planned as a four-lane dual expressway that will commence after the NKVE toll plaza on the Sprint Highway, ending at the Bukit Jalil Highway Interchange.

It will link Petaling Jaya North, Bandar Utama, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, the Petaling Jaya city centre, Taman Dato Harun, Taman Medan Baru, Taman Sri Manja, Bandar Kinrara and Bukit Jalil Technology Park.

The state constituencies that will be affected include Bukit Gasing, Bandar Utama and Kinrara.

But Hong said the three assemblymen in those areas – Rajiv Rishyakaran, Jamaliah Jamaluddin and Ng Sze Han – have not responded to residents’ concerns about the highway plan.

“They must assist their constituents in obtaining more information on the project instead of being silent on the issue,” he told MalaysiaNow.

“Opposition to the PJD Link has been growing but the representatives are mostly non-responsive, which is not helpful and a serious cause for concern.”

None of them responded to MalaysiaNow’s attempts to get comments on the project.

Sheikh Moqhtar Kadir, who heads the Section 14 Residents’ Action Committee, is among the more vocal critics of the project.

“Opposition to the PJD Link has been growing but the representatives are mostly non-responsive, which is not helpful and a serious cause for concern.”

“We need to have a town hall with the developer and the state government to verify the traffic, social and environmental impact assessments. The state government must manage a town hall and invite the people to take part in the discussion,” Moqhtar said.

The PJD Link will be developed by PJD Link (M) Sdn Bhd, a family-controlled construction company headed by Hari Narayanan Govindasamy, a businessman who also holds directorships in several private companies.

The company has defended the project as critical to easing traffic congestion in Petaling Jaya as well as cutting travel time.

But critics say the highway will displace long-time residents and businesses, and increase noise pollution, as well as other environmental and health hazards.

They also challenge the claim on easing congestion, saying the PJD Link will only bring more traffic into the city from neighbouring townships.

Moqhtar expressed disappointment with elected representatives, saying they had failed to fulfil their election promises.

A small banner protesting the construction of the PJD Link hangs from the fence of a house in Section 17, Petaling Jaya.

“The manifesto for GE14 was that there wouldn’t be any tolled highways in PJ but after the election, everything we hear is development goals,” Moqhtar, who is part of the Coalition Against PJD Link, a group comprising residents from several sections in the established and mature parts of Petaling Jaya, told MalaysiaNow.

He said the plan to bring back Kidex under a different name was against assurances by politicians that it would not be revived.

“We are not against development but this project was not right from the beginning.”

“We feel that we have been deceived because all this while, the elected representatives had convinced us that Kidex is dead.

“The previous menteri besar said that Kidex will be taken off but his successor is saying he is going to go ahead with it,” he added.

Michael Kum, another member of the Coalition Against PJD Link, said there should be proper traffic, social and environmental impact assessments as well as consultations with the affected residents.

“We are not against development but this project was not right from the beginning. We are proposing that the state come up with a better transport model instead. We don’t need more cars,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hong criticised Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari for taking a sympathetic stance favouring the developer.

“The state government must explain categorically whether or not the PJD Link has been approved, and whether the assessments on environmental, social and economic impact have been conducted.

“If the conditions are not met, there’s no basis for him to tell PJ residents to give the developer a fair hearing! Why did he disparage the critics as being ’emotional’ when the MB himself refused to provide more clarity on the project?” Hong asked.

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