LONG-time residents in Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar can only watch in sadness as development slowly takes over their once peaceful neighbourhood that they have invested in to raise their families back in the 1970s.
The news that commercialisation will extend to both sides of Jalan Maarof, affecting 20 houses, is not well-received by the residents.
Although the current market value for their properties has skyrocketed, some of the residents feel they cannot put a price tag on their houses that have witnessed their struggles and successes.
Retired civil servant M. Balakrishnan, 76, said many had asked him to sell his house as it could fetch up to RM4mil.
“I will tell them that for me, my house is only RM40,000. I bought the house in 1972, moved in 1977 and have been here since.
“I wish to spend the rest of my years here too.
“People tell me to sell my house and buy a nice property somewhere else with the money, and enjoy the balance.
“I am an old man and all I want is to be happy.
“This house is one of my greatest accomplishments and I will not trade it,” Balakrishnan said.
He recalled the time when he was newly married and was looking to buy a house.
Balakrishnan had refused to accept his father in-law’s offer and decided to buy his own house, and later impressed him by acquiring a beautiful home for his daughter.
“But now, Bangsar has taken a different look altogether.
“Endless commercialisation has increased traffic, and air and noise pollution. The security of the neighbourhood is also affected.
“It is very upsetting but the control is not in our hands,” he said.
Balakrishnan lives in one of the 20 houses that has been allowed for commercialisation.
“If my neighbour decides to commercialise his unit, I cannot do anything but to live with it. It is going to be very inconvenient.
“We are not against development and have compromised to a certain extent.
“But the area will be even less conducive for residents with the recent news.
“The row of houses along my house has a slip road that eases the traffic compared to the other side, which is facing the main road, Jalan Maarof.
“Majority of the bungalows on the other side have been turned into commercial units and parking is scarce.
“Many shop operators opt to park along that slip road to allow their customers to park in front of their shops.
“The same scenario happens along the roads that are close to commercial areas in Bangsar.
“It is a bid to avoid paying hefty parking fees at legitimate parking bays,” he said, adding that the situation was made worse by the mushrooming of mobile food stalls.
Another resident C. Ayadurai, 78, who lives in Lorong Maarof, parallel to Jalan Maarof, shared Balakrishnan’s sentiments.
“I moved to Bangsar in 1988 and it was a place for young couples starting their families.
“Now, I observe that many of the children have grown up and started their own families but they are not moving out, instead they are extending their current homes to fit more occupants.
“Take a drive along the residential roads and you will notice the renovations done on many houses are unbalanced.
“They have extended the property without considering if it changes the original facade. I wonder if approval was given for the extensions.
“Quality of life has definitely gone down in Bangsar. With Kuala Lumpur City Hall granting more possibilities of commercialisation, I will not be surprised if more bungalows will be given the green light.
“My house might be facing a boutique or a showroom in the future,” he said.
Despite the state of affairs, Ayadurai also has no plans to sell his property.
He wants to spend his golden years in Bangsar, just like many others who do not plan to move out.