[Malaysiakini] Cabinet wants BMC access road kept open
~ By Soon Li Tsin
There is finally some good news for Bandar Mahkota Cheras (BMC) residents - the federal government has ordered that the controversial toll-free access road in their neighbourhood to remain open.
The torrential downpour did not stop some 100 people from gathering under the Cheras-Kajang highway shielding themselves from the rain.
As the rain stopped, chaos erupted when Works Minister Mohd Zin Mohamed arrived at 3.30pm to make his highly-anticipated announcement to the jubilant crowd.
“As the case is still awaiting a decision in court, I’ve agreed to open this road and I hope we as responsible citizens will respect and abide by the law. I promise to all to resolve this issue permanently but I will need more time.
“With the opening of this road, Grand Saga has agreed not to re-erect the barricade and assured they will not initiate third party action against the government,” he said using a loudhailer.
Accept decision responsibly
Over 38,000 thousand residents have been fighting for years against toll contractor Grand Saga to remove the barricade built by the company to force the residents to use its tolled Cheras-Kajang highway since 2005.
After years of protest, the matter finally gained attention after several violent clashes occurred involving residents, bystanders, police and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).
The works minister also advised all parties to abide by the law and called for the residents to understand the deal struck between BMC housing developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd and Grand Saga.
Mohd Zin hoped that all parties can accept this decision “responsibly” because this matter has become an issue of public importance.
He also noted that Grand Saga has agreed to work together with the government so that this road will be opened.
“This is a decision made based on what has happened, we will review this matter again after the court decision. For now, the road will be opened as usual. I will instruct them (Grand Saga) to repair this road,” he said to more cheers.
The minister however was unsure whether the free access would be a temporary or a permanent feature, adding that it depended on the outcome of a court case between BMC developer Narajaya and Grand Saga.
“It will depend on the court decision. I don’t have power on that but at least we have a positive decision for the residents for now,” he told Malaysiakini.
He also revealed that the government has to consider traffic leakages suffered by Grand Saga when making its decision.
“The traffic leak involved almost 10,000 vehicles a day (using the slip road). It also involves expenditure of RM9,000 a day, RM270,000 a month ands RM3.5 million a year.
“To multiply this with the 20-year concession contract, it is a very large sum. So I can’t make a decision now without referring to (the contract),” he elaborated.
After Mohd Zin’s announcement, the crowd had already swelled to 300 people causing traffic at the junction to come to a complete standstill.
Cars passing by were pressing their car honks in support as BMC Open Road Committee chairperson Tan Boon Hwa (left) was hoisted up by overjoyed residents.
Happy residents chair MPs
Other parliamentarians, Serdang’s Teo Nie Ching and Segambut’s Lim Lip Eng from DAP, were also lifted up and cheered by supporters. Hulu Langat MP Dr Che Rosli Che Mat from PAS was also present.
Earlier today, residents leader Tan told reporters that he was informed of the cabinet decision by Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat this afternoon.
At a press conference after the minister’s announcement, Tan said that BMC residents can now sleep easy.
“I think everybody can sleep soundly tonight. This should not happen in a democratic country because democratic government which care for people (would not let this happen).
“We ask for help from many people in the government sector but for more than two years, nobody bothered with us. It was until after this elections on March 8 (that they listened),” he said.
Grand Saga executive director Zainal Abidin Ali was also present but he refused to comment on the matter until the minister made the announcement. However, he left the scene shortly after the announcement.
The RM16 million BMC road was opened by developer Narajaya in 2005 with the consent of the Kajang Municipal Council.
However, Cheras-Kajang Highway concessionaire Grand Saga closed the road due to compensation issues with Narajaya on loss of toll fees and says the road would only be opened with a directive from the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM).
Resulting from the dispute, Narajaya filed a civil suit against Grand Saga and the Malaysian Highway Authority. It is currently awaiting trial.
Grand Saga's EGM cancelled
In a related development, the Selangor state government thanked the federal government and the works minister for the decision to open the access road.
"The state government hopes the residents will be happy with the decision," Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim's press secretary in a statement released on his behalf.
The MB's office also said that with the new turn of event, the state government would not be calling for an emergency general meeting of Grand Saga.
This article is taken from Malaysiakini.