Both Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Federal Territories Ministry were placed under the spotlight for various issues.
JANUARY TO JUNE
DBKL started the year facing a lawsuit from a parking management company for breach of contract after its contract was terminated by the local authority.
Meanwhile, an old problem resurfaced — illegal sand washing.
StarMetro broke the story in January that the operators along Jalan Kelang Lama were back again two years after their illegal activities — taking place just 8km from the multibillion-ringgit River of Life (RoL) project at Masjid Jamek — were exposed by StarMetro and shut down by DBKL.
This time, the sand washing site owners claimed they had obtained permits from DBKL and the Federal Territories Ministry but its minister Khalid Abdul Samad rubbished those claims.
The operation was stopped momentarily but the culprits daringly resumed operations in March.
Pressmen and residents who checked the site were threatened by thugs, which led to the authority successfully shutting down the operations in April for good.
Early on too, the city authority had to grapple with thousands of abandoned bicycles that were put on the streets by a bike-sharing service which DBKL had hoped would encourage its denizens to leave their cars at home and opt for a more environment-friendly mode of transport.
Taking a cue from the fresh leadership at Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the people of Kuala Lumpur and their MPs began questioning the development of two plots of government land in Medan Imbi, near Jalan Bukit Bintang.
The 0.145ha land was supposed to be used for a park that included children’s playground and elevated walkway but instead a six-storey office building and a stall were erected in that space.
Subsequently, an MACC report was lodged while the building owner was given the option to purchase the land and pay a fine. In response, the company filed a suit against DBKL for going against their agreement.
The latter also faced resistance when it initiated moves to take over the management of community halls from political parties and non-governmental organisations.
It had stated that it was doing so to prevent misuse of the halls, which were built on government land.
The situation became complicated when third-party caretakers affiliated with political parties refused to return the halls, while some removed tables, chairs and air-conditioners in the buildings before surrendering them back to DBKL and others left unpaid utility bills of thousands of ringgit.
So far, DBKL has taken possession of 180 community halls in the city. The management of the remaining 22 still kept possession.
The city’s administration caught some flak for its decision to relocate the Ramadan bazaar from its long-time location at Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Masjid India to Jalan Raja. Some of the stalls were moved to Jalan Gereja and Leboh Pasar Besar.
Poor sanitation, traffic congestion as well as third party and political interference were cited as reasons for the relocation.
A marquee was set up in Jalan Raja.
The new location triggered mixed reactions from the traders. Some lamented on the lukewarm response while others said they experienced brisk sales from locals and tourists alike, given its proximity to Dataran Merdeka and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building which were main attractions in Kuala Lumpur.
However, there were also complaints from the public when the crowd under the marquee swelled on rainy days and it became uncomfortably hot in the tent.
JULY TO DECEMBER
Two accidents in the back half of the year grabbed mass attention.
The first was a malfunctioning lift at PPR Kerichi that plunged down from the fifth floor on Aug 2.
Nine people, including a child, were injured in the incident that was attributed to brake failure.
Investigation found that the back-up brake did not work either because the lift car did not exceed the “tripping speed” of 2.18mps.
DBKL footed the medical bills of the injured and launched a thorough scrutiny of all PPR lifts.
On Dec 4, Khalid said all 528 lifts at public housing projects maintained by DBKL had valid permits to operate.
On Nov 24, a sinkhole appeared in the middle of Jalan Maharajalela and a Perodua Myvi fell into it.
A few days after, two more sinkholes appeared along Jalan Pinang and Jalan Dewan Bahasa Pustaka.
Investigations revealed that these were caused by burst underground water pipes, which were decades old and needed to be replaced.
Khalid said DBKL would work with Air Selangor to identify roads that had water pipes beneath them and would mark out the priority areas for replacement.
Another issue that dominated headlines in the media for sometime was Kampung Baru following the government’s announcement on Sept 21 of its new offer under a redevelopment plan for the Malay enclave.
The plan was that 70% of the urban village would be allocated for affordable housing while the balance was for commercial spaces.
Landowners were presented with four options — cash compensation, ownership of a completed unit, a combination of the first two options or become a shareholder in the development project.
The land was initially priced at RM850 per sq ft, as determined by the Valuation and Property Services Department.
Strong reservations among landowners against the perceived low price prompted the government to revise this offer to RM1,000 per sq ft, where the additional RM150 would be given in the form of shares in a special purpose vehicle.
Khalid estimated the Malay population in Kampung Baru to shoot up to 160,000 by 2050, while stressing that the land status as a Malay-exclusive settlement would be maintained.
So far, 40% of the 5,374 landowners returned their survey forms to Kampung Baru Development Corporation (PKB).
PKB continued to hold talks with the remaining landowners since last month to explain the government’s plan and gather the landowners’ concerns.
A piece of good news that greeted stakeholders at the year end was the gazetting of parts of Taman Persekutuan Bukit Kiara slated to happen in 2020.
Khalid assured that the park was in the process of being gazetted as a green lung and would be made into a large public recreational park.
The RoL project will also be completed by the end of this year while upgrading works will be completed next year.
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