LABIS: Residents in the town here are upset the double-tracking rail project between Gemas and Johor Baru is going on without any regard to their objections or safety concerns.
They said the town will be cut off from the surrounding areas as the existing 500m flyover for vehicles will be raised another 5m to accommodate the rail expansion works.
As a results, motorists using the Labis-Yong Peng road will have to go almost 2km to make a U-turn back into Labis town.
Local businessman Tee Che En, 48, who runs a mobile shop in the area, was upset when he recently found out about the major changes to the areas road-system recently.
“This flyover is already high with a sharp turn. Now if they raise it another 5m, I am sure more heavy vehicles will meet with accidents when negotiating the sharp bend here, ” he said.
Tee said there were already many accidents involving lorries carrying timber and goods along the Labis-Yong Peng stretch.
He added even the local council officers was unable to explain to him about the project despite his many enquiries.
Azilla Putra and her husband Haziq Hamdan, both 25, who run a goldsmith shop in the area said that the new road proposal did not take into account the security of businesses in the area.
“This new elevated road will also cut off access to Labis town and during an emergency it will take police longer to reach our shops, ” she said, adding there are four goldsmith shops in the area.
Azilla added they were not against the project but hoped authorities will consider feedback.
“It is so dusty and people are forced to wear masks daily and traffic jams have worsened due to the road works, ” she said.
She hoped those responsible for the project would engage with locals including explaining the benefits of the project.
So far, she said, all they know is that there is going to be a train stop in Labis.
Contractor Soh Xing Chan, 55, who was born and raised in Labis said he was surprised how local council and public works departments could approve the plans to raise the road further in the area.
“Why only build a flyover for the train in Segamat and not here. Labis was also flooded badly in the past. Have they forgotten it?” he said.
Soh said the train tracks should be elevated while the existing roads either maintained or lowered.
He added that the road was an important trunk road between Johor Baru, Muar and Pahang.
State Unity, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan said the Transport Ministry has written to the main and sub contractors to reply to these issues raised by the residents but has heard nothing so far.
“We are worried about the safety of the students at two schools near the slope where the work will be carried out, ” he said, adding that a mosque and a community hall was also affected.
Ramakrishnan said the problems could be easily resolved if the existing road networks were maintained, the road lowered or the rail project in the area be built above ground or via a viaduct.
The Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking project, which is estimated at RM12.4bil, is expected to be completed in 2021.
It will have a total of 14 stations in Tenang, Chamek, Senai, Segamat, Genuang, Labis, Bekok, Paloh, Kluang, Mengkibol, Renggam, Layang-Layang, Kulai and Kempas Baru.