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Residents told to demolish guardhouses, barriers

26/01/2008 New Straits Times By Aaron Ngui and Marc Lourdes

The illegally-constructed guardhouse and gantry barrier in Jalan Jesselton, George Town.

GEORGE TOWN: In a move to ensure that residents do not take matters into their own hands, a residents' association has been ordered to demolish the guardhouses and gantry barriers it erected to stop people from using the roads in their area.

The Penang Island Municipal Council issued the notice to the Residents' Association of Jesselton on Tuesday.

The council wants the residents' association to remove the structures in the exclusive Jesselton Heights area.

Council president Zainal Rahim Seman yesterday said that the structures were illegal and had to be demolished as soon as possible.

This, he said, was provided for under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974, which clearly stated that no person can erect any kind of structure in any public place or along the side of any street without the authorities' approval.

"The council has not granted any permission for the association to erect the structures," he said when asked to comment on the residents' claim that they had obtained approval. He earlier chaired a full council meeting.

Zainal said he directed the enforcement unit not to demolish the guardhouses on Monday night following claims by the residents that they had the council's approval.

"I agreed to halt the demolishing works that night so as to verify their claims but found out the following day that no approval had been given.

"The council did not receive any building or technical plans but only a proposal showing the locations where the structures would be placed," said Zainal who, however, declined to indicate when the structures would be torn down.

The structures were built at entry points to the neighbourhood at Jalan Jesselton and Lengkok Jesselton. Both roads have been gazetted as public access roads and both lead to the nearby Waterfall temple.

Residents there did this to prevent motorists from using the roads within the Jesselton neighbourhood to avoid the traffic at Jalan Brook. They also wanted to declare the area as a "safe zone" and had apparently agreed to contribute towards a monthly service charge to maintain the guardhouses.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said the erection of guard houses and gantry barriers to stop outsiders from accessing public roads in the exclusive suburb was an offence under the law.

"The municipal council can tear down the barrier and the police can take action against those who erected it, if a report is lodged by the council."

He said that if the Jesselton residents had faced problems, they should have approached the council to find a solution.


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