MRT Update: Chinatown businesses question MRT land acquisition (Update #14)

TRANSIT has taken note of another burgeoning controversy, highting complaints & protests over land acquisition along Jalan Sultan in “Chinatown”, KL, as part of the Sg. Buloh – Kajang MRT project.

We have redesigned our post on this topic to present the most recent articles we have seen so far on this issue. The original post follows the articles.

” target=”_blank”>City Hall to meet stakeholders(NST, 19 January 2012);

More articles will be added to the above list as we come across them.

Our original Post follows after the next jump:

Traders and shop owners express their opposition to the proposed acquisition of their properties for the MRT today — Picture by Jack Ooi., Malaysian Insider.

The MRT line will run partly under Jalan Sultan and Jalan Hang Jebat, between Pasar Seni and Merdeka MRT stations. Pasar Seni MRT station will be located under Jalan Sultan, from approximately the Klang Bus Stand in the west (where the 7-11 is), to Jalan Panggung.

Station diagram for Pasar Seni MRT station and MRT tunnel, located mostly under Jalan Sultan, KL. Note the curvature of Jalan Sultan. Image courtesy of SPAD.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

Some of the specific lots affected along Jalan Sultan:

Some of the lots affected by the construction of the MRT under Jalan Sultan. Image courtesy of The Sun Daily.

The big question running through people’s minds is, why does the land need to be acquired when the train is underground? Well, there are two main reasons. You can see those reasons and read what TRANSIT thinks of this whole issue after the jump.

First, as you can see from the road alignment, it is Jalan Sultan (and Jalan Hang Jebat) that are not straight roads … and you can see that certain parts of the tunnel alignment and station box alignment alignment are located under existing buildings.

Second, according to Section 44 of the National Land Code 1965, property owners have the right to enjoy their property including the air above & land below. Therefore, Prasarana is required under the National Land Code 1965 & Land Acquisition Act 1960 to acquire the lands affected by MRT construction (which can be seen in red in the image below).

But does acquisition mean that the buildings will be torn down? That question deserves a more full & complete answer. Perhaps the government can just take over ownership of the buildings (especially the heritage buildings) and restore them during the construction, then lease them back to the shopkeepers?

According to the article,

He [Zulkilfi] said it was not possible to tunnel beneath existing buildings given the risk posed to their occupants from sinkholes pointing out that there were at least 10 such incidents during the Putra Light Rail Transit LRT tunnelling phase.

Perhaps another issue associated with the project is the planned redevelopment of the UO Pasaraya, Ocean Shopping Centre and Plaza Warisan, which can be seen in the video below.

TRANSIT Says:

We wonder, would it make a difference if the MRT station were located across the river (between Kuala Lumpur railway station & the POS Headquarters) instead? Or under the parking lot west of Jalan Panggang as some people have suggested?

Well it probably wouldn’t make much difference because the tunnel would still be under Jalan Sultan & Jalan Hang Jebat in the first case, and would still pass under buildings. In the second case it would still pass under buildings. Both cases would necessitate land acquisition under the current provisions of the National Land Code 1965.

The quote below comes from the article For development’s sake, Jalan Sultan shops must go, says Prasarana (The Malaysian Insider, 11 August 2011)

SPNB has to acquire the land above the stations and tunnel before any subsurface work can begin as section 44 of the National Land Code 1965 states that property owners not only have the right to the plot itself but also the air above and ground below.

Zulkifli also revealed today that SPNB had spent “three to four months” in talks with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to see if it was possible to tunnel underneath existing properties without having to acquire them but was told it could not be done.

“We had months of discussion with the Attorney-General’s Chambers on how we can have the tunnel underneath and the buildings remain but under the current law there is no such provision ” he said adding that similar talks were held when planning the LRT.

This prompted Fong to pledge he would table a motion in Parliament to amend the National Land Code to allow underground construction without the need for surface acquisition … to claps from those present.

TRANSIT Says:

Perhaps YB Fong would consider that this is something that should have been done many years ago as it would have saved a lot of headache and probably got us a better public transport system.

But would it make that much difference? look at the quote below:

Zulkifli said there was no way to avoid tunnelling under Jalan Sultan as SPNB had already optimised the alignment for the Sungai Buloh-Kajang SBK KVMRT line between the “fixed points” of KL Sentral and the future Merdeka development.

What that means, ladies & gentlemen, is that it has already been decided (without public consultation) that the MRT must serve KL Sentral and the future Merdeka Development (the 100-story tower that many Malaysians have rejected).

Also, what Prasarana is giving us is the “optimal” alignment between those two points. Perhaps there are other options that may not be as “optimal” but could still be reasonable choices. But Prasarana does not have to share the other options with the public, thanks to a quirk in Malaysian law (both in the Railways Act & PAD Act) that has unfortunately not been addressed, much like the legal requirement according to the National Land Code 1965, that a railway operator must acquire land in order to use the space above or underground.

What are those other possible options?

One option would be to route the MRT along Jalan Kinabalu instead. This would require the MRT to pass under the north west corner of the Federal Territory Syariah Court, cross under Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, cross under the east parking lot of Kuala Lumpur railway station, and the fountain garden in front of Wisma Tun Sambanthan. This would allow a station at Kuala Lumpur railway station (providing an important interchange with KTM services) and the Pasar Seni LRT station (though it would be a bit of a walk, similar to the walk between Dang Wangi LRT station & Bukit Nanas Monorail station).

The MRT would pass near the Maharajalela monorail station (another interchange), then follow Jalan Stadium past Stadium Merdeka & Stadium Negara (and the Warisan Merdeka development) to finally link with Jalan Bukit Bintang as originally planned.

Another advantage of this proposal would be to improve public transport access to Klang bus station by opening up the Jalan Kinabalu roundabout (just south of Pasar Seni LRT station) to buses so they can access the Klang bus stand using Jalan Sultan Mohammed without having to travel through Jalan Petaling & Jalan Sultan. This is something that should have been done long ago to make it easier for buses to access Klang bus stand without having to face the jams on Jalan Petaling and Jalan Sultan, and no matter what happens with the MRT proposal it should be done anyways!

The other option is a simple and effective one, and would probably not require any land acquisition – simply route the MRT under Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, placing the Pasar Seni MRT station in between Pasar Seni and Central Market, or on the west side of the Klang River just south of the POS Malaysia headquarters & Menara Dayabumi (which would allow better access to Kuala Lumpur station).

The MRT would then travel under the LRT alignment to a new interchange at Plaza Rakyat … and yes, we would prefer to see the government revive Plaza Rakyat instead of building the Warisan Merdeka! From Plaza Rakyat the MRT would turn towards Jalan Bukit Bintang as originally proposed.

The big problem with this proposal is the construction of the Pasar Seni station (imagine the disruption that would occur if the station were placed under Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock between Pasar Seni & Central Parket), as well as the issue of running the MRT under the existing LRT alignment.

But hey, the Kelana Jaya LRT follows the KTM railway tracks from Abdullah Hukum, and the MRT will be under Jalan Damansara but still “following” the KTM railway tracks … so why not have the MRT running under the LRT alignment (serving Puduraya and the “new” Plaza Rakyat) and make the best of it?

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comment section below! 

6 thoughts on “MRT Update: Chinatown businesses question MRT land acquisition (Update #14)”

  1. Why must this MRT goes to Star Hill when there is a monorail that goes there? Why the new MRT MUST CONGEST in the City centre? If there is only 1 ticket for the public transport, people can get off near the Chinatown and then walk to Jln Tun Perak to catch STAR, Putra or Monorail to the respective destinations.

    1. @Samkang

      Having an interchange at Star Hill (specifically at Jalan Bukit Bintang & Jalan Sultan Ismail) would be convenient to encourage transfers between the two lines. Also, it increases the value of the land surrounding the stations.

      As for walking, we have heard many stories that Malaysians prefer not to walk and the environment in urban KL is not conducive to walking. We don’t believe those stories but unfortunately, many other people do believe them.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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