Let PJ folk have final say on Kidex


Goh Ban Lee, The Sun Daily

AS a general rule, it is the responsibility of the government to build roads so that people can get from one place to another conveniently and comfortably. As Malaysians become richer and as towns and cities attract more people, more and more roads and highways are being built to cater to the rapid increase of motor vehicles.

However, it is also important to realise that not everyone likes new highways. Many residents of Petaling Jaya are against the proposal to build Kinrara Damansara Expressway or Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex).

It is a 14.9km elevated expressway from Kinrara to Petaling Jaya reported to cost RM2.42 billion. This works out to more than RM162 million per kilometre! Those who use the expressway will have to pay for it.

There are already protests against the project. Those who are against it include the owners of 3,784 parcels of land that might be acquired to build the expressway and residents who suspect it will be too near their houses for comfort.

It is fair to believe that those who protest also include some people who strongly believe that more highways and roads are not the solution to ease traffic congestion.

There are no statistics on the number of people who are against the building of Kidex. But even to casual observers, it is clear that many residents of Petaling Jaya are not happy with the proposed expressway. Many have taken the trouble to attend anti-Kidex meetings and voice out their opinions.

More importantly, some have written articles about the likely problems the expressway will cause.

So far, the government agencies or departments in charge of Kidex have not explained the need to build more expressways.

Kidex chief executive officer, Datuk Mohd Nor Idrus did provide some clarifications about the proposed expressway. But the explanations are clearly inadequate.

As such, the Selangor State Government should arrange a forum for those who are responsible for building Kidex to clarify the proposed expressway and justify the need to build it.

It is interesting to read the open letter written by four Selangor state assemblymen, namely Yeo Bee Yin, Rajiv Rishyakaran, Ng Sze Han and Lau Weng San, urging Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim to be aware of the frustration of the people over Kidex.

However, in this letter, they did not state whether they were for or against it.

While it is fair to believe that Malaysia will continue to build expressways to cater to the increasing number of private vehicles, it should be noted that they generally do not solve traffic problems. Los Angeles is well-known for its multiple-lane freeways, but they are choked with cars and gridlocked during peak hours.

In Seoul, South Korea, in 2003, the then mayor, Lee Myung-bak, demolished a 5.6km long 16-metre wide elevated highway in its downtown and restored a stream and built a recreational space, called Cheonggyeecheon. It has become an attractive site not only for Koreans but also for foreign tourists.

Lee was elected South Korea’s president from 2008 to 2013.