Knock, knock. Does Ampang have a local council?

Frustration was written all over their faces.

Some of their neighbours have given up, others are still banking on hope someone will hear their pleas.

The once peaceful neighbourhood in Taman Dagang Permai Timur, Ampang has turned into a nightmare ever since the Sungai Besi Hulu Klang (SUKE) highway construction project began three years ago.

The residents have accepted their fate of living next to a highway for the rest of their lives.

What they cannot accept is the lack of engagement by the highway authorities and the local council over problems related to the project.

They want to know where they stand in this mega project that has been objected to by not just residents in Ampang, but also other areas including Cheras.

“The trees have been cut and anyone can now easily enter into our housing area. We wonder if sound barriers will be installed once the highway is open,” said long-time resident Kenny Yen.

“The walkways where we used to jog and walk are filled with debris and mud, plastic barriers and other waste. The entrance into our housing estate has been downgraded into a single lane and there have been landslips due to the construction.”

Residents are greeted with this eyesore each time they enter their neighbourhood.

Yen said the residents wrote to the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council in August detailing the numerous issues related to the development project, including the ones mentioned above. The council’s Engineering Department received the letter on Sept 2.

He said residents decided to write to the council as the developers ignored their woes.

The local council, however, had failed to look into the issues raised by the residents.

Fed up with the radio silence from both parties, Yen and other residents last week called the media to show them first-hand the problems in the area.

Residents speaking to a reporter on Dec 3. Image: Twentytwo13

Following the session, representatives from SUKE reached out to Yen.

The project developer’s sudden action came as a surprise to the residents. Why didn’t anyone do so previously? Why wasn’t there proper engagement with the residents?

A representative from SUKE sent Yen this picture of several contractors visiting the neighbourhood on Dec 3, after they were alerted of the media session that took place earlier.

The inaction and the lack of engagement by the municipal council continues to baffle the community.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous said: “Just because there is no Datuk living in the area or politician championing their voice, the parties concerned are not too perturbed.”

“If that is the case, then let’s do away with local councils.

“Isn’t it the role of local councils to safeguard the interest of all ratepayers in their area?”

With a list of complaints and allegations of violations, one wonders the council’s role in the project.

This is not just about the SUKE highway project.

The authorities and private entities must ensure livelihoods are not at stake when a development project is taking shape.

According to Local Agenda 21, local councils are supposed to take positive approaches to ensure sustainable local development.

Having a one-off meeting to introduce a project to the local community or holding a one-hour briefing session while not revisiting issues raised by the local community is not how Local Agenda 21 works.

It is about practising good governance with public participation while ensuring there is transparency, consensus, efficiency and accountability.

Are corporations involved in projects in local communities being sensitive to the needs of the locals and are they collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure peace in neighbourhoods are not at stake?

The grouses of those affected by development projects must not be taken lightly.

The treatment of one neighbourhood should not be different with another.

Every complaint should be addressed immediately regardless who the complainant is.

Knock, knock, is anyone listening?

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