Battle over proposed PJD Link Expressway leaves Petaling Jaya residents in limbo

Over a decade of uncertainty with no end in sight has left ‘Say No to PJD Link’ coordinator Billie Tan frustrated, upset, and wondering who to trust.

This comes following Selangor infrastructure and agriculture committee chairman Izham Hashim’s announcement on July 4, that the Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link Expressway (PJD Link) was one of seven highway projects under consideration in the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional-led state.

The other highways are the Putrajaya-Bangi Expressway, Kuala Lumpur Northern Dispersal Expressway, Lebuhraya Senawang-KLIA-Salak Tinggi, Lebuhraya Pintasan Lebuhraya Persekutuan, Lebuhraya Kuala-Lumpur-Shah Alam, and Lebuhraya Bertingkat Sungai Klang Link.

“It is quite frustrating as we don’t know where we stand,” said Tan, from Section 17, Petaling Jaya.

“Over the years, we have been told by those in power that the highway won’t continue, only for another person in authority to say it is back on.

“In April, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said that the Cabinet had decided not to continue discussions with the PJD Link developer, only for the state government to last week say, it was back under consideration.

“We don’t know who to trust. We wish for transparency and honesty, so we know what to do. We feel stupid with all this flip-flopping.”

On April 17, Fahmi said the Cabinet had decided not to continue discussions with the PJD Link developer after the latter failed to fulfil conditions set in the concession agreement to enable the agreement to take effect. Fahmi had said that while the developer had applied for an extension to fulfil several conditions set in the concession agreement, it had been rejected by the Cabinet.

Last year, just before the Selangor state election on Aug 12, then-caretaker Selangor menteri besar, Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, announced the cancellation of the PJD Link Expressway. In the July 31 announcement, Amirudin said the proposed expressway did not meet the conditions set by the state government, and the administration had decided to scrap the project.

Experts however, questioned the validity of the state government’s decision to call off the project, whether it was binding, or if it would have legal implications, since it was made by a caretaker government.

Last week, PKR Petaling Jaya MP, Lee Chean Chung, said he was shocked by the latest announcement by the state government, claiming the state’s stand on the project contravened the federal government’s decision on April 17 that the concession had been discontinued. Lee was later reported as saying that he had sent a letter to the parliamentary committee asking for a hearing on the project.

Petaling Jaya residents have been leading the fight for over a decade, first against the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), and then, the PJD Link.

Kidex was approved in principle by the Selangor government in 2012. The state signed a concession agreement with the federal government in November 2013, but the project was cancelled two years later.

In early 2016, some Petaling Jaya residents began receiving pamphlets on the proposed PJD Link highway, which was about 85 per cent identical to Kidex.

The ‘Say No To PJD Link’ movement was not established solely to oppose the PJD Link, but as part of a broader effort to call for increased transparency and accountability in multi-billion-ringgit public infrastructure projects involving private developers.

The PJD Link is a proposed 34.3km dual-carriage expressway with four lanes and eight interchanges/ramps that would connect several rapidly expanding townships, with Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya at one end, and Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur, at the other.

Tan insisted that those living in Petaling Jaya were not keen on another highway in their backyard.

“I don’t understand why the developers do not want to engage with the residents. Honestly, we don’t need more highways.

“What we need is a proper public transportation system that works. The first-, and last-mile connectivity is bad. We still need an e-hailing ride to reach our final destinations.”

Tan added that she was worried the developers would play a long game and keep on trying to get the highway built.

“How much longer will this go on? We need to take care of the environment, and not have concrete jungles,” she said.

“The development could cause flooding and create pollutants, creating a heat island. The government should promise not to build new highways in densely populated city centres.”

Tan hopes that someone in power hears the group’s plea, and that their worst fears don’t come true.

Main image: Say No to PJD Link Facebook 

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