The Star, 05 August 2014 - Too many to handle

The Star, 05 August 2014

Too many handle
Cheras-Kajang road system unable to cope with rapid housing growth

THE Kajang Municipal Council [MPKj) concedes that the Cheras/Kajang road system is bursting at the seams because the infrastructure development has not kept pace with the area's rapid housing growth.

'The south of Kajang or what we call the Southern Corridor is booming. Many development projects are coming up and we are expecting tens of thousands of new housing units in this area alone in the next three years," said a source from MPKj.

Some of the projects are Eco Majestic (8,000 units), Setia Eco Hill (10,000 units), Tropicana (2,000 units) and UEM Sunrise (5,000 units), among others. In addition, it is expected that some 10,000 units of SoHo and serviced apartments will be built along the MRT line between Cheras and Kajang.

"All these developments happened in Cheras and Kajang after 2012 when it was announced that the MRT line would be built here. "The council has to approve the projects as long as they follow the land use and plot ratio stated in the local plan," he said.

There are about 500 housing estates of various sizes under the Kajang municipality, and a majority of residents in them use the Cheras-Kajang (Grand Saga) Highway to get to town and the other side of the Klang Valley.

As if traffic along this highway as well as the East-West Link Expressway that connects to Petaiing Jaya is not bad enough, future residents of upcoming housing estates will also use the same roads.

Meanwhile, the Cheras-Kajang Highway also takes in traffic from Lekas Highway, Silk Highway and the Kajang Bypass. Congestion often occurs at these bottlenecks.

The council said the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) which is part of the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR), will offer a solution.

However, environmentalists are opposed to the current alignment as it will cut through forest reserves in Ampang.

"EKVE can divert traffic from Sungai Long, Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Hulu Langat, Kajang and Seremban via MRR2 to town and other parts of the Klang Valley. It was already in the masterplan and is needed to support growth in Cheras and Kajang," he said.

Another option is the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE), as its Alam Damai intercope with rapid housing growth change can help ease traffic from Cheras and Kajang.

He said the forest reserves affected by the current EKVE alignment mostly fall under the jurisdiction of the Ampang Municipal Council while only a small portion of the Bukit Sungai Putih Forest Reserve in MPKj's jurisdiction would be affected.

He believes that only 30% of future residents will use the MRT because of the distance, instead of the targeted 50%. Furthermore, most of them are high-end projects and future occupants of these properties were more likely to drive.

The only consolation is no huge shopping centres are planned for Cheras and Kajang, which would otherwise add further to the traffic load on these highways.

"I agree that the Cheras-Kajang Highway is running at over-capacity, and bottlenecks arising from the MRT construction make the matter worse," he added.

MPKj will hold an exhibition and objection hearing on proposed amendments to the Kajang Local Plan soon. This is the third time the local plan is being amended, the second time was to cater to changes following the constructions of the MRT, KLORR and SUKE.

'The proposed amendments are a continuation; agricultural plots in Semenyih, Beranang and Hulu Semenyih are slated for conversion to residential to maximise the potential brought by these expected infrastructure projects," he said.

The proposed amendments would ensure the forests in Hulu Langat would not be affected much as they had been gazetted as forest or Malay reserve land.

In the meantime, what is being done to ease the horrendous traffic in Cheras and Kajang.

He said a RM62mil road to connect Bandar Baru Bangi to Kajang 2 and Bandar Teknologi Kajang, which would bring traffic from the Cheras-Kajang Highway onto the PLUS Highway, is under construction.

With six developers sharing the cost, the project is expected to be completed by 2016.

Also, KTM and Metro Kajang Holdings are joining hands to construct a KTM terminal on a 13-acre piece of land in Kajang 2 that will be similar to KL Sentral in Brickfields, and will connect to the MRT lines. The facility will be ready by 2017.

In the meantime, it looks like Cheras/Kajang folk will need to wait a few more years before the situation improves..