Proprietors at the formerly bustling business centre, Damai 23 commercial area in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, say they will not be able to survive much longer unless the access road in front of their shops is reopened soon.
The business owners said they had lost customers since a part of Jalan Alam Damai was closed for the construction of Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated (SUKE) Highway early this year.
The portion of that road that is closed runs directly in front of the shops and is inaccessible from Jalan 1/144a, requiring motorists to make a wider loop to get to the commercial area.
They added that there were inadequate flagmen and signage to alert motorists of the closure and the alternative route.
Kenny Lin, a representative of the operators, said there were only about 20% left of the almost 50 businesses that were previously operating in the area.
“We can survive the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order, but this road closure is hurting our business as these are mostly service-based businesses such as workshops, clinics and home furnishings.
“Customers will not come here if it is too inconvenient. They also feel unsafe because of the ongoing construction work,” he explained.
He said the businesses could not simply move out as they had taken years to set up their customer base and did not have funds to restart their business elsewhere either.
A workshop owner, who wished to be known only as Chin, said his business had dropped by 70% since the road was closed in April.
“Construction work for SUKE has been ongoing since 2018 and there is usually a partial lane closure along this road.
“This still allowed motorists to access our place, although some parking spaces were removed.
“But in April, they closed both sides of the road entirely with no end date in sight,” he said.
He added that he would have to drive out to help direct his customers to the workshop because even navigation apps could not detect the road closure.
Meanwhile, Dr Prashan Gunaseharan, who has been running a dental clinic there since 2015, said he might only last for the next six months at most if the road closure continued.
“We are already dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and now this closure is a double blow for us.
“We need a definite end date for the access road to be restored,” he said.
StarMetro has reached out to the highway concessionaire but the company has yet to respond as at press time.
The 24.4km SUKE Highway is being built by Projek Lintasan Sungai Besi Ulu Klang Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned company of Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas), with an estimated cost of RM10bil.
It was recently reported that the highway was expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2022.
SUKE will connect with Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas), Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Expressway, Sungai Besi Expressway, Cheras-Kajang Expressway, MRR2, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Expressway (Akleh) and Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE).
The two-way SUKE Highway starts from the Sri Petaling junction and goes up to Ulu Kelang.