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In Klang neighbourhood, residents fear eviction as ECRL project inches closer

The Taman Sungai Sireh residents say their pleas to state authorities have fallen on deaf ears.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
A woman stands at the gate of her home in Taman Sungai Sireh in Klang, Selangor, which is at risk of demolition due to the East Coast Rail Link project.
A woman stands at the gate of her home in Taman Sungai Sireh in Klang, Selangor, which is at risk of demolition due to the East Coast Rail Link project.

Ramli Mohd Jadi has lived in Taman Sungai Sireh, Klang, Selangor, since the 1970s, when the area was still an informal settlement.

He imagined spending the rest of his life in that neighbourhood, which, for so long, he had called home.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, though, he said this cherished dream may not come true.

In August, the presence of a group of strangers in the neighbourhood caught the residents by surprise.

These people, whom the residents said could not speak Malay or English, were seen conducting surveys and marking houses in the area.

Residents hang signs outside their gates protesting the construction of the East Coast Rail Link project across their neighbourhood. 

Upon investigation, it was discovered that they were contractors from China involved in the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

According to another resident, Azman Mohd Mahusin, they were only informed about the alignment passing through their residential area a year ago, even though the project had started as early as 2017.

"The residents were not officially informed.

"There were some meetings that we organised ourselves with various relevant parties, but the government claimed that it was the one handling the engagement, despite us doing all the work," he told MalaysiaNow.

Taman Sungai Sireh, which has around 300 houses, gained public attention when the issue went viral in mainstream and social media.

According to Azman, they only obtained information from the internet, and it was understood that the neighbourhood was situated in Section C, involving the route from Mentakab to Port Klang.

This area also includes a plot of land with dozens of graves.

A man carries a bag of garbage from his house in Taman Sungai Sireh.

The more than 600km-long ECRL project is a railway link connecting Port Klang with states along the east coast. It was initiated under former prime minister Najib Razak's administration with cooperation from Chinese companies.

Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 was reportedly issued on Jan 12 this year, putting at least 89 houses in Taman Sungai Sireh at risk of being acquired.

Shapawi Hashim, the Taman Sungai Sireh action committee chairman, said the residents were anxious because the explanations given by the state government were inadequate.

The division of work between the state and federal governments was also not being coordinated effectively, he said.

Shapawi Hashim, chairman of the Taman Sungai Sireh action committee.

"Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said there was no action taken, but the Land and Mines Office and the Department of Valuation and Property Services (JPPH) have already entered the scene.

"After the JPPH evaluation, there will be a time frame before the eviction notice is issued.

"We have about three to six months to stay in this neighbourhood before we are forced to leave.

"This matter falls under federal jurisdiction, but the actions of the state government are not aligned," he said, referring to the state government's authority on land acquisition for the project.

Amirudin, when asked about the housing issue, said it is still under evaluation and no notice has been issued.

Shapawi Hashim speaks to a family about the development of the East Coast Rail Link.

"The project in that area is scheduled to begin in 2025. When we asked the residents, they seemed to not know about it because we had not issued any notice, meaning that the demolition would not be carried out in the near future.

"What is being done now is an assessment for consideration (by the developer).

"After that, the state government needs to obtain the actual alignment of the project," Amirudin said.

Meanwhile, Shapawi said the residents were disappointed with Amirudin, adding that he had been reluctant to meet with them despite several attempts to communicate through letters.

Amirudin recently attended a state government programme nearby, which he said the residents used as an opportunity to meet him and voice their concerns.

Shapawi said that if what Amirudin said was true, the state government should give assurance to the residents before any work is carried out.

Signs hang outside a gate in protest of the East Coast Rail Link.

Meanwhile, a resident known as Cik Umi expressed dissatisfaction with the state government's handling of the issue.

"It's not easy for us to own a house. How can they just tell us that our houses will be demolished?

"We're not wealthy people who can afford lawyers," she said.

The elderly resident also questioned the compensation that the Selangor state government would provide if their houses were indeed demolished.

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