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Tuesday October 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday October 15, 2013 MYT 11:59:51 AM
by chan li leenphotos by saiful bahri
One of the owners who still lived at the back portion of his shophouse.
OWNERS and tenants of shophouses along the main road of Kampung Kepayang continue to remain in limbo, not knowing what is to happen to the buildings there.
While the Batu Gajah district council had previously informed them that the row of 54 dilapidated shophouses built in 1908 would have to make way for road expansion purposes, there has been no news on the matter since last August.
At the same time, a contractor claiming to have been appointed by the council was removing wooden beams and metal structures of the shophouses, causing the buildings to crumble further.
In the latest incident last Thursday, one of the corner shophouses collapsed after its wooden beams were forcefully removed.
Two days later, the contractor removed the metal grille and wooden doorframe at a unit owned by Cheong Yin Mooi.
Cheong, 79, said the contractor had no right to remove things from her property or to sell them.
“They are after the items for money. I was told that the wooden doorframe is made of cengal wood and is worth a lot these days,” said the elderly grandmother, who had moved away 10 years ago to live with her son.
Cheong was near tears when she told The Star that she had lived at the shophouse, located on the Federal Route I between Simpang Pulai and Gopeng, since she was 10.
Another owner, Balindrar Singh, 52, said to date, none of them had received any letter or notification from the council on what lay ahead.
“The council must let us know its direction. It must have a plan and then only can we decide on what to do.
“Is it going to demolish the buildings or not? Because if it doesn’t, then we can restore the buildings.
“And if it has no plans to demolish the buildings, then why is there a contractor loitering around here and removing items without permission?” he asked, adding that the owners and tenants were still paying quit rent and assessment.
According to Balindrar, businesses at the shophouses started failing after the authorities took away the car park in front and made it part of the main road.
“That is the root cause of the problem.
“At first, the authorities told us it was only a temporary measure but it has been 20 years since,” he said.
Fellow owner Razman Abdul Kadir, 70, who bought one of the shophouses there as an investment in the 1980s, said a meeting was last held with the council in June last year.
“We gave the authorities three options, which was either to take up 6m at the front portion and compensate us accordingly, or demolish the entire structure and compensate us, or to not expand the road at all and leave us alone.
“Then in August the same year, I received letters ordering me to demolish my unit, which I appealed and my building was spared,” he said.
However, Razman has not heard from the council since then.
“I also want to clarify that the quantum of compensation was never discussed with the council.
“So, how is it that the council is saying that we, owners, are asking for too much?” he added.
Council president Datuk Jamry Sury clarified that it was the duty of the council to demolish the buildings after they were deemed unsafe by the Public Works Department.
“However, compensation for the purpose of Compulsory Land Acquisition is to be handled by the department and is to be paid out by the Federal Government,” he said.
Agreeing that there was some confusion among the owners, Jamry said he would call for a meeting next week.
He added that the council was in the process of sending out eviction notices and planned to demolish the buildings in phases.
“Under the first phase, a total of 10 units would be demolished followed by the rest,” he said, adding that the council had earlier demolished six units while six others had collapsed on their own.
On claims by the owners that the council’s contractor was removing items from their property without permission, Jamry said the contractor had the right to remove and sell the items there as part of the contract to carry out the demolition exercise.
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Northern Region, Family & Community, in limbo over shophouses between simipang pulai and gopeng
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