Sunday, June 20, 2021

More ways to solve traffic issues than building elevated highways, MPs say on controversial project

Maria Chin Abdullah and William Leong warn of the social cost of the PJD Link.

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PKR’s Maria Chin Abdullah and William Leong Jee Keen today joined Petaling Jaya residents in urging authorities to call off a massive elevated highway project in the city, saying traffic issues should be addressed by taking into account sustainability and developing public transport.

In a discussion at her office with members of the Coalition Against Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link) Highway, Maria said developers of the proposed highway project should find other ways to overcome traffic problems.

“We need to take into consideration how people are feeling about the elevated highway. I’m not convinced that it will reduce traffic,” Maria, who is MP for Petaling Jaya, said, adding that it would also have a “big social cost”.

“In Section 14, most of them are retired senior citizens. For me, I have always felt we can improve our public transport so that we have fewer cars. We can work out better public transportation instead of building highways.”

Leong, the Selayang MP, cited urban planning in developed countries like the US and Europe where he said highways are being taken down to create cities conducive to pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists.

“I think we miss the point when people talk about economic growth,” he said.

“We are talking about people flourishing and living a good life, and PJ has been a place where we show the rest of the country that we can live happily and peacefully in a sustainable way.

The planned PJD Link is a 34km highway seen as a variation of the controversial Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) that was cancelled in 2015 amid strong public opposition.

It is planned as a four-lane dual expressway to commence after the NKVE toll plaza on the Sprint Highway, ending at Bukit Jalil Highway Interchange, linking 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.

Residents from 11 sections of Petaling Jaya today joined representatives from the business community in solidarity with the Concerned Residents Section 14 PJ Action Committee to object to the tolled highway, saying it would cause heavy traffic along with carbon emissions, particulate emissions and noise pollution among others.

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

The residents said in a statement that the company has yet to submit a traffic impact assessment, economic impact assessment and social impact assessment for the proposed highway plan which is expected to commence construction towards the end of the year.

Speaking today, Maria acknowledged that the Pakatan Harapan manifesto from the previous general election had said there would be no more tolled highways.

“We should be phasing out tolls, not building an elevated highway with two more tolls,” she said, adding that the elevated highway goes against Petaling Jaya’s development plan which focuses on reducing carbon emissions.

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