PUCHONG is one of the newer towns in the Klang Valley and its rapid expansion has been helped by its central location and good road network.
Commercial and residential development projects only started to sprout in the 1980s in this former tin-mining town.
Once upon a time, it had also been filled with rubber estates and oil palm plantations.
The contrast between old and new can still be seen in new villages such as Kampung Baru Batu 14 where the wooden houses in the village are juxtaposed against modern residences nearby.
The Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve provides Puchong’s estimated population of 400,000 some respite from the concrete jungle.
Puchong MCA chairman Datuk Wong Hock Aun, who was born in the area, pointed out that Puchong was governed by three local councils.
“The 5th to 7th mile stretch is under Kuala Lumpur City Hall while Kinrara to 16th mile is under Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).
The rest such as Bukit Puchong 2, 16 Sierra, Pulau Meranti and Taman Mas, is under Sepang Municipal Council.
“Kinrara, Puchong Jaya, Bandar Puteri, Puchong Utama, Bukit Puchong are freehold and former rubber estates; Taman Kinrara 1 to 5 are on leasehold land and used to be tin-mining areas,” he said.
Wong noted there was not much undeveloped land in the Kuala Lumpur side, except for a few private-owned ones.
“Most of the undeveloped areas in Puchong are located within the Sepang municipality,” he said.
He expressed hope that now the light rail transit (LRT) was finally in Puchong, the traffic situation would improve but said more highways were also needed.
“There is a road reserve to link USJ 1 to Pusat Bandar Puchong and Kajang but so far, no highway has been planned.
“Hopefully Kidex can be realigned or revised so it can alleviate congestion in Puchong and link to the Serdang-Kajang-Putrajaya Expressway (SKIP) to connect to Putrajaya.
“Those from Bandar Kinrara or Bukit Jalil can use it instead of the LDP to get to Damansara Utama,” he said.
Modelled on Hong Kong
Former Kinrara assemblyman Dr Kow Cheong Wei said that during the early days of Puchong, people could lie in the middle of the road and not be hit by a car.
“That was how empty the roads were. But look at Puchong now!”
He said Puchong’s road network has not been able to keep up with development and the transportation system in the area needed to be better managed.
Jalan Puchong is the main road and there are many access roads linking to expressways such as MEX, LDP, SKVE, and Bukit Jalil Highway.
“Puchong would be better if the transportation and traffic here was well-managed, unfortunately it is not.”
The former assistant to then Serdang MP Datuk Yap Pian Hon, said he was the first to push for an LRT in Puchong and also wrote a proposal on ‘Puchong, the next Hong Kong’.
During his tenure as Kinrara assemblyman, Yap was inspired by the commercial district in Hong Kong so he, together with some businessmen, brought in 29 banks to the town.
“I went to see bank and logistics company representatives to get them to open a branch here in Puchong.
“This is a town with the most banks,” he said.
He added many surveys had put Puchong as among the top 10 towns of Klang Valley.
“In 18 years, the price of properties in Puchong has never dropped, not even during the 1997 economic downturn.
Of traffic and floods
Puchong is booming and more major development projects are in the pipeline.
The Ampang LRT Line Extension Project (LEP) is set to reduce the jams the area has become notorious for.
It is the first rail network in Puchong and involved the construction of four new stations – Awan Besar, Kampung Muhibbah, Alam Sutera and Bandar Kinrara 5 (BK5).
Hotels such as Four Points by Sheraton have opened to guests while MTree Hotel will begin operations in 2016 and Hilton Garden Inn is still under construction.
Hilton Garden Inn will be located in a new mega development called Millennia City which bills itself as a fully integrated town with both commercial and residential properties.
Bandar Puteri Puchong 11 Residents Association chairman Alice Choo, who has been living here for eight years, said the town had grown too rapidly.
“This has led to the major traffic congestion here as well as flash floods as the drainage system cannot cope.”
Choo said the LRT was long overdue but she expressed doubts that it will result in fewer vehicles on the road.
The Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) was the first major highway built in the area.
However, it is virtual gridlock during the morning and evening rush hour as the highway is filled with residents trying to exit or enter Puchong to go to their workplaces in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya or Putrajaya or return home.
Another problem in Puchong is flash flood.
In February 2013, a 30-minute flash flood hit two southbound sections of the LDP, causing havoc.
The Star reported that the water reached 0.8m in height at parts of KM21.36.
On June 10 this year, Puchong was hit by flash floods again.