In the name of ‘development’, Bangsar residents pay a heavy price

Is this the legacy we want to bequeath to future generations?

High-rise buildings have sprouted around Bangsar – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

Bangsar was once a rubber plantation before being developed into a residential suburb in the late 1960s.

As Kuala Lumpur developed from the 70s, Bangsar’s strategic location and proximity to the city centre proved to be a magnet for many residents and businesses. Today, it is one of the most sought after residential areas in the Klang Valley.

As a resident of Bangsar Park, I have witnessed the evolution of the neighbourhood and its surrounding residential areas – Pantai Hills, Lucky Gardens, Bangsar Baru, Bukit Bandaraya and Taman SA – for nearly five decades since the 70s.

Bangsar Park, one of the oldest housing estates in KL, was once a tranquil residential area in the heart of the city.

It was a different era back then. Communities were closely knit, and most of the residents knew each other. Many of the original house owners were civil servants, like my father, who were able to afford a house here, as it was not yet considered an affluent neighbourhood.

No longer. Today, many of the original owners have either left the area or passed away. Massive and unfettered development has encroached on the area in recent decades.

Not only has ownership of the original houses of Bangsar Park changed hands, the surrounding areas of Bangsar have been transformed beyond recognition. Unbridled and superfluous expansion in the vicinity of Bangsar Park has marred the topography of this once tranquil KL suburb.

Sadly, it’s the residents who have to pay a heavy price. Just come out of my house and take a 180-degree turn and you’ll see a plethora of high-rise buildings and condominium towers – far too many buildings – huddled in a small space in an urban setting, with some towers set apart by only several feet.

On top of pollution, traffic jams are a daily affair, especially during evening peak hours on working days. Thankfully, there is the elevated light rail as an alternative mode of transport, reducing somewhat the number of vehicles on the road.  

Just drive along Jalan Maarof and the moment you reach the mass rapid transit station bordering Damansara, you’ll see a jumble of high-rise buildings close to each other – an environmental nightmare.

Yet, construction projects press on relentlessly. Imagine the traffic along nearby roads once these buildings are fully occupied! But who cares?

Last year, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said he was dissatisfied with the traffic impact assessment report provided and requested Kuala Lumpur City Hall to study the issue more thoroughly.

At times, Jalan Maarof resembles a racing circuit for some drivers coming from Damansara to access Jalan Bangsar. Many motorists blatantly try to beat the lights, endangering pedestrians like me, even though I only cross the road when the pedestrian light turns green.

Surely it is time for City Hall to erect road humps or road tables along Jalan Maarof to deter these reckless, inconsiderate drivers who do not seem to care that they are driving in a residential area.

Voices of concern and protest are seldom heard, and most KL residents seem to show little concern about these high-density high-rise buildings and condominium towers sprouting all over the city.

Jarring sight: A jumble of buildings huddled together in Damansara – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

I fail to understand this lackadaisical attitude. Don’t these residents care for the environment or the massive traffic jams that will choke the roads once these tower blocks are fully occupied?

Coming back to Bangsar Park. For over a year now, residents have been physically and mentally distressed because of air, water and noise pollution from the construction of condominiums on the fringes of our once placid neighbourhoods.

Lately, it has been disturbing and infuriating to witness the many problems in the area. Heavy vehicles carrying construction materials ply through the roads of Bangsar Park, often without a thought for the welfare and health concerns of the residents. Premix spilt on the roads has damaged certain stretches. But nobody seems to care a jot for us.

The developer blocks the road whenever it is deemed necessary for the project, not in the least bit concerned about the inconvenience that residents face. And a new by-road is being constructed from this new project linking it to Bangsar Park.

Imagine the traffic nightmare once this condominium project is completed. But who cares! After all, we are just ordinary city folks with no clout, and our protests are just voices in the wilderness.

A few hundred yards away, another small construction project is underway just opposite the McDonalds in Bangsar Baru. The developer sealed the pedestrian walkway here, forcing pedestrians to take risks and walk along the side of the road. Thankfully, no one was hit by oncoming motorists from Jalan Maarof turning into Lorong Maarof 3. Now, after my complaint to the Public Complaints Bureau, a walkway has just been constructed.

Regrettably, this development frenzy is taking place all over the country, unhampered by the lack of concern and the absence of vocal protests from most residents.

Where are all the concerned people who care for the future of this country while a small minority and an elite group trample over once-beautiful landscapes?

Environmentalists often point out that the exploitation of natural resources and overdevelopment lead to ecological degradation. Unrestrained construction activity leads to ecological disasters such as global warming, climate change, acid deposition, soil degradation, and air, noise and water pollution.

Is this the legacy we want to bequeath to future generations?



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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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Jo Ho
Jo Ho
12 Jun 2022 12.38pm

I can totally really empathize with you.
Although my problem is on a smaller scale, it draws a parallel to your story.
My family have been living in the Jalan Raja Laut/Chow Kit area all our lives. It used to be a close knit neighbourhood from the 1950s to 1980s.
But after that, with the UMNO building, the Pan Pacific hotel, the PWTC LRT development, the place became a hot spot of illegal parkings, shops putting tables on the roads, traffic jams & noise pollution.
I’ve written to DBKL – twice, providing photos of the horrendous mess in my area – but nobody cares! Not even a reply! This is how our authorities “work”.

Fairos Abdul Mutalip
Fairos Abdul Mutalip
10 Jun 2022 5.08pm

They are raping the natures in the name of development.

Fairos Abdul Mutalip
Fairos Abdul Mutalip
10 Jun 2022 5.06pm

Agreed with you. The root cause of the problems is, our country is governs by [those] who don’t care about environmental and health issue.

Same goes to Penang as i am from Penang. [They] have approved the contructions of hillside and along the sea side causing [degradation] of hills and sea along the Penang Island. Today the map of Penang has change and is not the same as before.

Their MOTTO is “How much i can make money during my tenure in the power”.

Jonn
Jonn
9 Jun 2022 2.05pm

Please la bangsar has been changing since the 80’s. Now you have an issue, [get out of] here lol

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
12 Jun 2022 10.48am
Reply to  Benedict Lopez

Same for OUG and sorrounding residents where ongoing condo projects and the latest redevelopment of OUG Plaza will bring traffic in this area to a standstill as even now every morning it takes about half to one hour to travel from OUG junction with Klang road to pass the Petaling Police Station which is a distance of less then 500 meters.

As Dr.M told some decades ago to rich people who objected to the developments in Damansara areas YOU WANT YOUR GREEN AREAS SHIFT TO SMALLER TOWNS AND RURAL AREAS.

Bless all

Last edited 5 months ago by Gursharan Singh
UY
UY
9 Jun 2022 11.40am

Well first and foremost you are free to air your grievances regarding the development that has taken place. Same can be said for the developers that bought land in the area for the sole purpose of, you guessed it… DEVELOPMENT.

It looks like you Air a lot of gibberish for someone who puts emphasis on tranquility, peace and quiet. You’re in a developed area, a city in fact. If you miss those times, maybe it’s time to pack your behind and head for the mountains or rural areas.. I’m sure you can build a nice hermit lodge after selling your lot in Bangsar.

You’re stuck in a time zone and probably can’t accept improvisation in whatever shape or form. Is Bangsar overdeveloped? OF COURSE. It has been since the 90s.

Go figure.

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
12 Jun 2022 2.25pm
Reply to  Benedict Lopez

Bangsar has become a high income residential area where even some single storey terrace houses are valued at over a million RM with some high cost luxury vehicles in the driveway and d/storey terrace houses valued almost RM2M.
The cost of single storey terrace houses was about RM11K and of d/storey terrace houses around RM50K when first developed.
Thus almost all house owners may be millionaires.
Same true for double storey terrace houses and semiDs or bunglows in other mini townships in KL Penang JB etc who may all be millionaires.

Property prices high because of strategic location and demand due to developments.

With developments came problems as with spouses in-laws also come and some not welcome.

[One organisation] owned a residential bungalow in Jln Maarof and sold it for over RM6M due to traffic and other problems and used RM2.8M to buy a bungalow near Tasik Titiwangsa and balance to develop their another property in KKB.

Adjust and adapt.

Bless all

Venugopal Armugam
Venugopal Armugam
9 Jun 2022 10.33am

Reporting the truth and facts