MRT Corp insists no plans to acquire, demolish Chinatown lots
UPDATED @ 01:21:30 PM 01-08-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 ― MRT Corporation reassured Chinatown traders today that it will make good on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise not to acquire or demolish any private properties along the iconic Jalan Sultan here for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.
Its strategic communications and public relations director, Amir Mahmood Razak, told a media briefing here that despite the many grouses raised by property owners along the iconic street, MRT Corp was still keen on engaging with them to strike mutual agreements (MA).
“We still continue to want to engage with our stakeholders.“The point is that the PM has made a commitment that no private building on Jalan Sultan will be acquired or demolished.
“So we are not going to do that ― that’s the commitment we made,” he said.
A group of Chinatown traders had last month demanded a signed undertaking from Putrajaya to ensure their properties would not be touched during construction of the multibillion ringgit rail line.
The traders complained that although the government had previously promised not to acquire their properties for the project, no one has since offered any confirmation.
The protracted dispute over land acquisition for the MRT began in mid-2011 after landowners in Chinatown, Imbi and Bukit Bintang were informed that the government would acquire lots above the MRT tunnel as owners’ rights extend to the centre of the earth under the law
The unhappy property owners had at the time demanded black-and-white confirmation that this would not happen, and said as recently as July 21 that their request was yet to be entertained.
It was reported previously that the prime minister had promised the Jalan Sultan landowners that the government will not compulsorily acquire their property.
MRT Corp had also pledged late last year that it would not acquire Jalan Sultan properties if traders there agreed to vacate their premises for six months during the construction of the MRT.
As of June this year, the owners of 20 out of 24 properties on Jalan Sultan have agreed to sign Points of Agreement with MRT Corp, agreeing to vacate their premises for six months to facilitate the MRT’s underground works.
The remaining property owners have continued to square off with MRT Corp on the matter, refusing to ink any deal with the Finance Ministry-owned firm.
Amir confirmed that the owners of three properties are still refusing to negotiate with MRT Corp.
“We still want to continue to talk to these three and convince them that this is going to be a win-win situation... it is going from the PoA towards the MA,” he said.
Amir added that the traders may not even have to move out of their properties during construction of the MRT underground, despite the initial proposal that they vacate their premises for six months.
He said a technical team is currently carrying out a survey on the condition of the buildings on Jalan Sultan to determine if they would remain structurally safe for occupation during construction works below.
“They are determining the strength of the buildings. If we find that they can still, we will make a decision at the time,” he said, noting that the survey should be completed in five weeks’ time.