Selangor putting cart before horse with elevated highway, says Azmin


(MM) – Selangor should not have issued any form of approval for a proposed super-elevated highway in the state when details and possible effects of the project are still unknown to lawmakers and the public, Azmin Ali has said.

The Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman said the concerns were amplified because the Pakatan Rakyat state government was suspicious about how Putrajaya picked KIDEX Sdn Bhd for the Kinrara Damansara Expressway (KIDEX) project..

Azmin said he was not against beneficial development plans in Selangor, but questioned Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s lack of transparency in the matter.

“A special committee, comprising members of the state assembly should be given full access to scrutinise and go over this proposed highway, especially since there are concerns of the tender awarding process,” Azmin told The Malay Mail Online in an interview.

The PKR deputy president acknowledged that there is currently a lot of “unhappiness” over the lack of details concerning the project, and demanded MB Khalid explain why the KIDEX deal had been agreed to “in principle” before fully obtaining views and concerns from affected residents as well as state lawmakers.

Azmin pointed out that the Selangor government’s consent to a tolled highway expressly contravened PR’s 2013 general election pledge to abolish such a system.

“A comprehensive study should have been done before any form of agreement, whether conditional or not was agreed upon,” he said.

The Gombak also questioned the choice of a super-elevated highway as a solution for traffic woes, and asked Khalid to disclose the other alternatives his administration had weighed before deciding on the KIDEX project.

“What about improving public transportation, feeder service? Is it necessary to build an additional highway? How do we know this is the best solution?” Azmin said.

The PKR man also said the Selangor government should not use Article 83 of the Federal Constitution as an excuse, stressing that the state government still had some say over the construction of the RM2.42 billion ringgit project.

Article 83 1(1) of the constitution states that the federal government may “direct” the state government to surrender the grant of state land provided that it is within “national interest” to do so.

MB Khalid said yesterday that his administration has “agreed in principle” to the KIDEX project, but that it will be subject to traffic and social impact assessment reports.

“The state will also inquire into toll collection, early termination upon cost recovery and agreed profit.

“Lastly, the state is open to changes to the implementation of the project if shown to be beneficial to the public,” he said in a posting on his official Facebook page.

He did not, however, furnish details beyond that.

The proposed super-elevated KIDEX highway would run close to familiar landmarks in the state and, at up to 24 metres high, obstruct existing views.

Among the areas that could be affected by the project are Tropicana Mall, SS2 Mall, Rothman’s traffic lights, Section 14, Amcorp Mall, Hilton Petaling Jaya,  Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital, Jalan Templer roundabout, Taman Datuk Harun, Taman Medan Baru and Bandar Kinrara.

Construction of the multi-billion ringgit highway could begin as soon as next year and be completed by 2018.

Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof told The Malay Mail Online last Thursday that a “conditional agreement” was already in place.

According to two parliamentary replies on the matter by the Works minister, a number of conditions came with the project, and the Selangor government agreed to the highway construction proposal two years ago.

On November 12 last year, Fadillah told Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian that Selangor state had agreed to plans to build the highway through a letter by the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES) dated February 23, 2012.

Last Friday, the Works Ministry told Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo that KIDEX must fulfil a “condition precedent” 12 months before the concession agreement is enforced and that a “public survey” was also a necessary pre-condition.

The minister’s reply stated that the project cannot go ahead if public feedback is negative.

The reply also said that construction work is slated to begin next year if there were no objections.