THE Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) turns 25 today.
It was earlier called the Ampang Local Council.
In conjunction with its silver jubilee, StarMetro spoke to the council president and several long-time Ampang residents on the changes they experienced over the past two decades.
K. Manoharan Nambeyar, 74, said it was the vast swathes of greenery that convinced him to get a property in Taman Sri Ukay about 35 years ago.
This area in Kampung Melayu Ampang has become unrecognisable with development. This is where the Ampang LRT station stands today, just a kilometre away from the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor border.
“When we first moved here, there was only a single lane road from the city centre to the National Zoo.
“Now many areas have been opened up for housing developments making traffic congestion an issue.
“More highways are coming up, hopefully this will help mitigate the situation,” he said.
Despite this, Manoharan said he would not want to move out from the area.
“There is a sense of community here, the multiracial residents look out for each other,” he said.
Taman Bukit Mulia Residents Association (TBMRA) chairman Amin Osman, who moved into his home in Bukit Antarabangsa in 1994, said he had seen significant changes over the years.
“Many of the changes have been positive.
“There is a faster reaction time by MPAJ when it comes to complaints, especially with cleanliness issues,” he said.
For many Ampang residents, the Titiwangsa range and verdant forest reserves are its main attraction. — Photos: AZHAR MAHFOF and IBRAHIM MOHTAR/The Star
“Although the city is nearby, it is like living in a kampung with forests around us,” he said.
Ampang has the unique status of being adjacent to the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur but enclosed by the Titiwangsa mountain range as well as the Ampang and part of the Hulu Langat Forest Reserves.
Steering the council
With a population that doubled over the past two decades, MPAJ president Abdul Hamid Abdul Hussain has his work cut out for him.
Balancing the growing needs of the community with its tight budget had not been easy.
“One of the main challenges is to provide better infrastructure, especially roads.
The pre-war shophouses in Jalan Besar Pekan Ampang are believed to be more than 100 years old.
“But these are high-budget projects and take time to implement.
“We are trying although most of our focus is in maintenance rather than upgrading at the moment,” he said.
Abdul Hamid said Ampang was a much sought-after residential location now compared to the 1990s.
“The completion of the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) and Ampang–Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (Akleh) helped to ‘open’ up Ampang.
“Those who worked in Kuala Lumpur then chose to stay in Ampang as it was so near.
“Then, came the Besraya and Duta–Ulu Klang Expressway (DUKE) which also allowed for greater connectivity to and from the area,” he said.
To be completed are also the East Klang Valley Expressway and Sungai Besi – Ulu Kelang Expressway.
With the increased demand for housing, however, land scarcity is one of the biggest challenges being tackled by the council.
Although Ampang is spread over 14,350 ha, almost 50% of its land is made up of forest reserves.
Much of the land also comprised Class 3 and Class 4 hill slopes with high geotechnical risks.
Ampang Jaya will finally have a mini stadium complex in Taman Pandan Perdana, scheduled to be completed this year.
One of the areas where the council is hoping to improve on is its landscape.
“Now we are working on a Landscape Masterplan to be ready by year end.
“This will tell us where to focus our landscaping efforts, types of trees suitable to plant among other elements,” he said.
Abdul Hamid, who has been with the council since 2002, said some of the ongoing issues to be addressed included flash floods, mushrooming of illegal traders, traffic congestion and old drainage.
A notable high for MPAJ is the setting up of its dedicated Hillslope Development and Maintenance Division in 2009 – a first in the country.
The unit was established after several major landslides such as the Highland Towers and in Bukit Antarabangsa incidents.
The first MPAJ office was at a shoplot in Ampang Utama from 1992 to 1997. The council headquarters, Menara MPAJ, is now located in Pandan Indah
The unit monitors 352 slopes and issued notices should it come across slopes with a risk of collapsing or those that showed signs of low maintenance and degradation.
MPAJ almost achieved Selangor’s 2005 zero-squatter target with 90% of squatters relocated.
Kampung Sungai Purun, the biggest squatter colony in Selangor was demolished in 2002.
The 28.2ha squatter area with 1,284 families was made up largely of Indonesians with permanent resident status.
Where there was once only one road to and from Ampang, there are now several highways including the East Klang Valley Expressway (pictured).
Kg Sungai Purun is now the residential area of Ampang Saujana.
Other big settlements included Kampung Perak, Kampung Kayu Ara and Desa Angkasa.
The squatters were moved into low-cost apartments including Flat Sri Nilam, Bandar Baru Ampang, Lembah Permai, Flat Berembang Indah and Pangsapuri Ukay Indah in Sungai Sering.
Other significant achievements included several innovation awards including the 2016 Local Authorities Innovation Award (AIPBT) and International Convention on Quality Control Circles.