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Kayu Ara needs an urgent facelift

03/03/2009 The Star By YIP YOKE TENG

KAYU Ara may not be the most vibrant zone in Petaling Jaya but it certainly has a pivotal role in the maintenance of the image of the dynamic city.

It is the western gateway for motorists from Shah Alam and Subang Jaya travelling on the New Klang Valley Express Way (NKVE), thus the first suburb to give visitors an impression of the city. Sadly, however, the city gateway is in a sorry state, and urgently needs a complete makeover.

Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara is the main residential area, with a rustic lifestyle. But instead of serving as a pleasant city enclave for the busy urbanites, it is now a rundown area, with rubbish scattered all over the place.

Dirty: Rubbish is strewn along the roads in Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara.

While a row of shops is being built on the fringe of the village to bring some changes, an abandoned project with rusty steel frames sticks out like a sore thumb.

Residents of the Sri Ara low-cost flats, near the abandoned project, have been troubled by a long list of problems for years while awaiting anxiously for the certificates of fitness (CFs) promised to them long ago.

The two problematic projects were started in 2002 under a caring and visionary move to provide affordable housing to the people of Petaling Jaya where real estate prices are among the highest in the state.

The projects, located on a former squatter settlement, were part of the previous Selangor government’s scheme to eradicate squatters.

Making a plea: Purchasers of Vista Damansara medium low-cost apartments want the project to be revived.

However, instead of giving the less privileged a boost, it gave them a hard blow.

The buyers of the Vista Damansara medium low-cost apartments bought the units at between RM112,000 and RM160,000 with the hope of having their own dream homes. Now, they can only watch the half-completed structure left to rot, and their dreams turned into a nightmare.

It is learnt that work stopped the following year after the developer had defaulted in its payment to the contractor.

After four years of disputes between the buyers and the developer, the company agreed to a 90% and subsequently 100% refund of the retail price.

The buyers considered the settlement unfair as the developer did not take into account the legal fees paid by them, delays in delivery and appreciation of property values during the period the project was stalled.

"We are very frustrated by the irresponsibility of the developer in abandoning the project and their subsequent actions"- HEW YOON LEONG

“We are very frustrated by the irresponsibility of the developer in abandoning the project and their subsequent actions. We are equally frustrated by the inability of the many authorities and MPs that we have met to produce positive action,” Vista Damansara Purchasers pro tem committee chairman Hew Yoon Leong said.

However, more than half of the buyers accepted the refund offer due to financial pressure and out of fear of not getting anything back later.

“The developer keeps on delaying the project and many in our group are financially stressed and have been forced to reluctantly accept the refund,” Hew said.

The committee members have reiterated that they wanted the project to be revived or a compensation of RM50,000 be given to each buyer for the losses incurred.

“The real property prices in Petaling Jaya have grown so drastically over these few years. Should they have delivered our properties, we would have enjoyed the value appreciation we deserve,” civil servant Mohd Nasir Ismail said.

“But now, after waiting for so long, we have to fork out a much higher amount if we want to buy a house, and we cannot afford that,” Nasir said.

Faulty facility: The sewerage treatment pumphouse at Sri Ara lowcost flats, Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, that is not functional.

Businessman Leong Chong Meng said the matter had been brought to the attention of the Housing and Local Government Ministry but no action had been taken so far.

He said the incident had also caused many buyers to be blacklisted by the banks.

“It is ridiculous that the developer does not have enough resources to revive the project as they have sold off so many plots of land around here,” Leong said.

The nearby low-cost flats were also built by the same developer. Their occupants are so frustrated by the many problems they face that they had even lodged a police report after no action was taken on their relentless complaints.

In their police report, the flats residents highlighted six crucial matters: the absence of CFs, no surau, no public hall, no children’s playground, lack of proper sewerage treatment and lack of fire extinguishing facilities.

They said all these were promised to them when they first bought the units.

“Two fires broke out within a three-month period and we were shocked to find that water from the hose was only trickling,” Sri Ara Flats Residents Association chairman Abidin Pandak said.

The flats were scheduled to have been completed in 2004 but were only completed in 2006. These are currently housing former squatters who had stayed in the area for at least 25 years.

The building’s substandard facilities have caused the delay in the issuance of CFs but the occupants were given a six-month temporary CF during the general election in March last year. Till now, one year later, the proper CFs are still not issued.

Pothole-ridden roads, waist-high weeds and ramshackle sheds are common sights in the village.

Other parts of Kayu Ara need attention, too. An overhead motorcycle bridge over the NKVE has become redundant after a U-turn was built about 50m away, while illegal billboards are built indiscriminately on unkempt land.

The developer of the two projects could not be reached for comments


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