GEORGE TOWN: Residents at Mount Erskine, upset that their homes would be affected by the proposed RM30mil underground tunnel project from the middle of Mount Erskine Road to Adventist Hospital in Burmah Road, are calling for it to be scrapped.
Shirleen Bryne, whose family home is situated along Mount Erskine Road, said residents were shocked when they received a letter from the land office in May, which was when they first heard about the project.
They were further taken aback to learn that the project had been gazetted in 2017, she added.
“From what we know the project will include the widening of roads along the route and the acquisition of private land which would adversely affect many homes, a temple, a shopping centre, shoplots and also two hospitals, ” she said.
Calling the project a waste of public funds, Bryne urged the state government to scrap it.
“Many of the residents here are less educated and do not really understand what’s going on.
“The state government did not notify us and there was no engagement with them.
“When we asked Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee, he told us that the project was not confirmed yet, ” she said.
Byrne claimed that if the project goes ahead her house would lose the entire garden and there would only be about 2m from the pillars of the porch to the road.
“With the widening of the road to that point, the passing vehicles,
traffic noise and exhaust fumes will be just roughly 3m from our living room, ” she said at a press conference attended by other affected residents at her home yesterday.
Bryne added that the land acquisition would make her house an illegal structure as a city council bylaw stated that the structure of a house must be at least 6m from the edge of the road.
“To comply with the bylaw, we will have to demolish our porch, master bedroom and living room at least.
“This does not include space for a new fence or wall. How will we live in a house that has been chopped like that?
“If we were to demolish the house and rebuild, another bylaw requires us to give up another 2m more of our land, ” she said.
Bryne also said the state government was taking their land for around a mere 10% of its value.
“The land and house is owned by us and it is freehold Grade A prime land.
“The land office has only offered RM565,000 for the 232sq m of land.
“A licensed valuer has calculated a conservative value of RM4.86mil for the piece of land taken, which includes an amount for injurious affection or compensation for the damage inflicted on our remaining property by the acquisition and loss of value. The land office is not awarding us any injurious affection, ” she said.
Byrne suggested that the state government look into different alternatives to reduce traffic jams in the area.
“A cheaper solution would be to turn Mount Erskine Road into a one-way route, heading towards Fettes Park or Tanjung Tokong.
“The state government can also help control traffic by exercising restraint in allowing property developers to keep on shoehorning high-rise condominiums and apartments into the adjourning areas.
“The government should also invest in encouraging efficient and cost-effective public transportation, ” she said.
Bryne also questioned if environmental, traffic and social impact studies were done for the major project impacting communities on Mount Erskine Road, Burmah Road, Bagan Jermal Road and Gottlieb Road.
She added that around nine landlords who had been living on Mount Erskine Road for over 65 years would be affected by the project.
When contacted, Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee said he heard the residents’ complaints and reasons.
“I am talking to the council to try to explore all available options.
“So far the time frame for the whole project is still not set. I was told that the project was a necessity for the growing population in the northern parts of the island.
“I hope we can find a compromise that will leave everyone satisfied, ” he said.