Thursday, September 17, 2009

Postpone demolition exercise, cry car operators

THE remaining car workshop operators at the Kg Bugis squatter settlement, Kuala Lumpur are appealing to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for more time to relocate.
The village, located behind Pudu Plaza, is the last area for more than 2,000 squatters in the last 10 years under the Bukit Bintang constituency to be declared ‘completely cleaned’, once demolition works are carried out this year.
Along with the car workshops are the wooden homes of owners who have stayed there for many years.
While the majority of the workshop operators have moved out from the area, the remaining six or so will be the last batch to do so.
Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, who met the operators, said he had received a letter from the DBKL safety and enforcement department deputy director (operations) Ab Salim Mansor dated Sept 8 that the DBKL has agreed to postpone the demolition of the homes and workshops to Oct 15.
Workshop operator George Wong, 62, however, still hoped that the City Hall could extend the deadline to Dec 31 on humanitarian grounds.
“We are appealing for our MP Fong Kui Lun’s assistance to help extend the deadline,” said Wong.
“This is because the space that I’m having here would probably cost me RM10,000 rental fees outside, which I cannot afford under the current economic situation.
“So I hope DBKL can consider our plight,” said Wong, adding that he had been operating in the area for over 40 years.
Fong said he will appeal to the Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail on behalf of the operators as they still have pending works to complete for the car owners, some which would only be ready by November.
“Kg Bugis has a 50-year history. The residents are the second or third generations of the original occupants.
“This squatter happens to sit on government land that forms with the Imbi side, measuring 42.49ha in total, so the government is wanting to achieve the zero squatter status and make way for development concerning arts and culture,” he said.
He added that he is also requesting for the government to retain a small portion of the land for green lung.
Fong also announced that the 36 bachelors (either unmarried or widowed) who were previously not offered any DBKL flat units, will now be relocated to the Sri Johor flats in Cheras after his appeal to City Hall.
“I’m glad that after speaking to the DBKL, it has agreed to allocate them with the flats (two persons to one unit) and it’s somewhere nearby too,” he said.
Meanwhile, it is also learnt that some of the squatter residents had demolished their own homes before the City Hall could do so, so that they could fetch some money selling the materials like the wooden planks and zinc.
A resident at the Pudu Plaza apartments Tan Chik Poh said he hoped the City Hall could quickly clear the heap of garbage and mess at the vacant land next to his apartment building, which were left behind by the torn down homes.
“It has been more than two months but the pile of waste is still there.
“It actually caught fire a few times already in the wee hours of the morning, but fortunately it was small and we could put it out.
One of the remaining squatter home occupants who wanted to be known as Low, claimed the rubble has become a haven for drug addicts. She said there have been a spate of crime incidences, and hoped to authorities could urgently do something about the condition there.

The Star

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