Rich say don’t need MRT, but poor welcome it

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Wealthy residents have dismissed the need for the Klang Valley mass rapid transit (MRT) system, unlike low-income earners who hailed it for its convenience.

Damansara Heights residents’ association president Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abd Rahaman said his neighbours would likely not use the MRT as they preferred to drive their luxury cars.

“They’ll still go on their Jaguars,” Abdul Aziz told The Malaysian Insider recently.

“People in our area will not use this (the MRT). People from other areas… pass through our area to go to town. That makes the whole place jammed (already),” he added.

Abdul Aziz also pointed out that land was scarce in the affluent neighbourhood, which counts ministers, tycoons and top civil servants as among its residents.

“[There is] no more land in our area. The whole place will be congested,” said Abdul Aziz, a one-time managing director of flag carrier Malaysia Airlines.

“So we want to know exactly where is it and how are they going to plan to do it,” he added.

Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents’ association president Mohd Hatim Abdullah also said his neighbours were unlikely to use the TTDI station, which will be located near the TTDI market.

“People who live there already own four or five cars,” said Hatim.

He added that TTDI residents in Kuala Lumpur also objected to the 1Utama MRT station as it would likely worsen traffic congestion on the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP).

“The LDP now is very congested. During construction period, what will happen to the traffic?” he asked.

“They (the MRT stations) are both at our entry and exit points,” he added.

Hatim pointed out that the proposed location of the 1Utama station was on TTDI land next to the LDP headed towards Kuala Lumpur.

He said TTDI residents wanted the 1Utama station to be moved to a more suitable location nearby, such as the Bandar Utama golf driving range.

The driving range is located behind the 1Utama shopping mall in Petaling Jaya.

“The driving range is perfect,” said Hatim, pointing out that it was larger than the current proposed location.

The RM36.6 billion Klang Valley MRT project will have 35 stations along its first line that stretches 51km from Sungai Buloh to Kajang with four rail interchanges, according to documents released in the project website.

Eight stations between KL Sentral and Maluri will be underground as 9.5km of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line will be built under the capital city.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal has reportedly said that the cost of underground works would be five to 10 times higher on a per km basis if the line were to go underground, depending on geological conditions.

Groundworks for the SBK line is due to start this July 16 and will be completed in 2016.

There are two other proposed lines under the MRT.

Hatim also suggested that the TTDI station be relocated to Damansara Uptown, a commercial area.

“It can serve Taman Tun, Tropicana shopping centre, Uptown, DJ (Damansara Jaya), DU (Damansara Utama), (and) Damansara Kim. That area’s perfect,” said Hatim.

Sunway Damansara residents said The Curve MRT station would mar the aesthetic image of their neighbourhood in Petaling Jaya.

“If you look at it, Sunway Damansara and the surrounding areas, Mutiara Damansara, are basically hot market areas,” said Sunway Damansara residents’ association president Winslow Wong.

“With the massive columns to support the MRT line, it’s not going to contribute to the aesthetic value,” he added.

Wong pointed out that the MRT station would cause massive traffic jams on Persiaran Surian, which is already congested during peak hours.

“Persiaran Surian is already very narrow with condominiums on both sides, especially nearer to The Curve,” said Wong.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) report by the project’s environmental consultant ERE Consulting Group warned that significant traffic congestion would affect Persiaran Surian, the LDP and Jalan Semantan in Damansara Heights.

Bandar Utama residents similarly expressed concerns about traffic congestion that may potentially be caused by the 1 Utama and The Curve MRT stations.