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May 10, 2008

Folks have the right to use access road without paying toll, says Khalid

thestar - SELANGOR Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the state government will be holding a meeting with Cheras-Kajang Highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd and the Federal Government next week.

He said the meeting was to find a solution for the tussle between the concessionaire and Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents over the barricade erected by the former on the toll-free access road belonging to the Selangor government.

“We understand the problem as well as the plight of the people and will seek a quick solution,’’ said Khalid when met by Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents at the state secretariat building yesterday.
All ears: Liu (left) explaining the situation to Khalid at the SUK building in Shah Alam as Ean Yong (second from right) and Tan (right) look on.

All ears: Liu (left) explaining the situation to Khalid at the SUK
building in Shah Alam as Ean Yong (second from right) and Tan (right) look on.

He said the residents had the right to use the access road without having to pay toll but added that the problem could only be settled when all relevant parties had discussed the matter.

The residents arrived at the secretariat building yesterday at about 11am in a chartered bus and five cars to hand over a memorandum to Khalid. It was received by the his special duties assistant Mohd Yahya Sahri.

The crowd was also met by state executive councillors Ronnie Liu and Ean Yong Hean Wah.

Liu, who met reporters after speaking to the residents, said the concessionaire did not have the right to barricade the access road as it belonged to the state government.

He lambasted the police for taking sides and said that the police should maintain law and order instead of manhandling the residents on behalf of the concessionaire.

Under control: Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents watching the site in case Grand Saga blocks the road again.

“We have all the proof to show that the land belongs to the state government and we have informed the police about this but the police, which is under the control of the Federal Government, is not paying heed,’’ said Liu.

He added that he had spoken to the Selangor CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar over the phone but the latter had remained stubborn.

More than 100 policemen, including personnel from the Light Strike Force and the Federal Reserve Unit, were dispatched to the area on Thursday when the residents held a demonstration to protest against Grand Saga Sdn Bhd.

Police personnel fired water cannons several times to ward off the protestors who were riding motorcycles and speeding towards the police barricades.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng was allegedly assaulted when he pulled the plug of a generator before standing in front of a water cannon to prevent the police from aiming it at the crowd. He is presently recovering at the Selayang Hospital.

“The police must be neutral and not help Grand Saga Sdn Bhd put up the barricade. Since when did the police force go into construction?’’ asked Liu.

He said that he would be speaking to Khalid as well as state legal adviser Datin Paduka Zauyah Be T. Loth Khan to see what action could be taken against the concessionaire.

Liu said the residents also had the right to seek an injunction against the concessionaire as well as seek damages from it through legal recourse.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents had been maintaining a 24-hour vigil at the crossroads where the concrete barricade put up by Grand Saga was first dismantled on April 21.

But the tents and garden chairs which residents used while keeping an eye on the road were no longer there on Friday morning. Also missing were self-appointed traffic marshalls who helped to ensure the traffic situation was under control since the traffic lights were not synchronised.

Although small groups of residents were present at the site, the crowd was not as big as the 1,000-odd people who converged on Thursday night where four people including the Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee chairman Tan Boon Wah were arrested.

To-date, Grand Saga has re-built the barricade twice and on both occasions, residents had broken down the barrier.

“They can keep building the barricade but we will keep destroying it,” said Tan when contacted.

He was released from police custody after a few hours.

With the highway concessionaire and the Selangor state government claiming right of way, the issue is still far from being settled.

One resident, Suraya Haris Ong, said authorities should also view the socio-economic impact on the township with low rentals and vacant shoplots since the barricade was put up in 2005.


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