Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MRT Update: Chinatown land acquisition (Update #2)

Jalan Sultan traders to keep buildings after MRT tunnelling finishes (Malaysian Insider)
By Shannon Teoh

August 23, 2011

A view of the Jalan Sultan area where some buildings had been earmarked for demolition. — Picture by Jack Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — The 31 landowners in Chinatown will be able to hold on to their property after the government agreed to reinforce their buildings before allowing them to return after tunnelling for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) under their shops is completed.

Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told reporters that an agreement in principle had been reached after a one-hour meeting this afternoon with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and most of the 31 traders in Jalan Sultan in the capital.

“The government will proceed with acquisition but also strengthen the buildings that are affected for safety of the household,” the MCA president said.

The century-old Chinatown was planned for demolition due to the RM50 billion KVMRT project but loud protests from residents, who say they were informed less than two weeks ago, have forced the government to backtrack over plans to redevelop the tourist attraction.

The 31 landowners will now be able to return to their buildings after tunnelling, expecting to take six months, is completed.

When quizzed by reporters, the former health minister said the government has in principle agreed to undertake the costs of the solution but that “details will be discussed. The cost of compensation and strengthening needs to be worked out.”

At a press conference after the meeting, Lee Shan Too, president of the Yan Keng Benevolent Dramatic Association located in Jalan Sultan, also told reporters that stratum titles under the National Land Code were the main option being considered.

A 1990 amendment to the National Land Code 1965 allows for the acquisition of underground land without affecting the property on the surface.

However, both Dr Chua and the traders insisted that legal details will be discussed later.

“Our final stand is that the land will remain with us and Chinatown will be intact,” said Thomas Tan, who owns the 73-year-old Lok Ann Hotel on the street.

“It is a win-win situation which will save the identity of Chinatown,” said Dr Chua.

Lee also said that the solution would reduce the government’s expenditure as “acquiring all our land titles would cost hundreds of millions” of ringgit.

Earlier today, state-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) said that it will explore the use of stratum titles for property owners affected by tunnelling for the KVMRT.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the government may still invoke the Land Acquisition Act to acquire the land titles before releasing the surface land back to the landowners if any of the 31 were to hold out against signing over the underground portion of their land.

A source said that the 31 buildings affected could withstand tunnelling if they were strengthened as they were only located within a “safety buffer” at a 45-degree angle from the actual tunnel itself which would run directly under Jalan Sultan.

Other news:
KL Chinatown traders can stay on (The Star)

By Yuen Meikeng

Tuesday August 23, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: The 31 shop lots near Jalan Sultan will not be demolished for the construction of the Klang Valley My Rapid Transit (MRT) project, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.

He said the shops would remain as they are an important part of KL Chinatown's identity.

"During the six months of constructing the MRT tunnel underneath the area, the occupants will have to evacuate their property but will be told to return after that.

"Buildings affected by the construction will be strengthened," he told reporters after attending a dialogue between the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), representatives of the Jalan Sultan traders and others at the SPAD headquarters here Tuesday.