Bandar Mahkota Cheras toll dispute

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The Bandar Mahkota Cheras toll dispute occurred at a bypass road in the 11th mile of the Cheras-Kajang Expressway in the town of Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Selangor, Malaysia since October 2005, and more recently in a dramatic turn of events between April 2008 and early-June 2008.

Background[edit]

In October 2005, during the construction of the Bandar Mahkota Cheras, an access road connecting the new township and the Bandar Tun Hussein Onn Interchange (EXIT 704) was built by the developer to provide access to Bandar Mahkota Cheras from Cheras-Kajang Highway and vice-versa.[1] The access was closed by the toll concessionaire, Grand Saga, under the direction of the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) due to disputes between Grand Saga and the developer of Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Narajaya, on compensations since the link road would allow motorists to bypass the 11th mile toll plaza on the expressway.[1] As a result, residents travelling to Kuala Lumpur are required to enter the expressway via Bandar Sungai Long or vice-versa, while having to pay fares for both the 9th mile and 11th mile toll plaza.[1] Over the years, the access road became a source of dissatisfaction and gripes by the local residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras.[2][3]

Several protests were held over the years against the barricading of the access road, but to no avail. It was not until the 12th Malaysian general election, the state government, which owned 30% of Grand Saga fell under the control of the opposition government following the defeat of Barisan Nasional in Selangor.[4]

The dispute[edit]

On 21 April 2008, local residents took the dispute into their own hands and dismantled the barricades for the first time by hand, temporarily allowing traffic to and from the township to directly enter and exit the expressway for three weeks.[5][6] A few days later, the Hulu Langat land office confirmed that concessionaire Grand Saga had no rights over the access road.[7]

In the following days, it was a cat-and-mouse game between the residents and the concessionaire, as the barrier was repeatedly rebuilt by Grand Saga only to be dismantled by the residents shortly after.[6] In some instances, residents pooled hundreds of dollars to hire trucks and heavy machinery to bring the barricade down.[8][9]

On 8 May 2008, residents clashed with the Police while they were protecting the access road from being rebuilt by Grand Saga. Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng was allegedly assaulted by the Police and was hospitalised.[6][10][11] Several accusations of police brutality were made.[12][13]

The residents attempted to obtain an injunction against Grand Saga to rebuild the barrier on the access road. On 13 May 2008, the court denied the injunction and Grand Saga vowed to put up another barrier.[14][15]

On 27 May 2008, a five-foot wall was erected by Grand Saga. Some residents and journalists (including mainstream newspapers) at the scene were attacked by unidentified men who were armed with sticks, pipes and helmets, sitting on the walls to prevent them from being dismantled.[16][17] They also smashed the windows of a few nearby vehicles. Police reports were lodged and residents accused Grand Saga of hiring thugs to ensure that the wall remained in place,[16] a charge that the concessionaire vehemently denied.[18][19] The next day, the barrier was torn down once again.[9][20]

Members of the opposition state government tried to bring up the issue on the Malaysian Parliament,[21][22] only to be shot down by the speaker.[23] A few days later, the Federal Government ordered that the access road was to stay open until the court makes a final decision on the dispute.[24][25]

On 4 June 2008, the Malaysian Highway Authority and Grand Saga were ordered to install traffic lights on the junctions of Bandar Mahkota Cheras to ease the traffic flow of the residents.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Grand Saga the latecomer", Gabey Goh, The Malay Mail, 31 May 2008
  2. ^ Seventh protest against barricade, Andrew Ong, Malaysiakini, 22 August 2006
  3. ^ 21 arrested in anti-toll hike protest, Malaysiakini, 21 January 2007
  4. ^ S'gor MB: State firm owns stake in Grand Saga, Rahmah Ghazali & S Pathamawathy, Malaysiakini, 28 May 2008
  5. ^ a b Sigh of relief from residents, Geetha Krishnan, The Star, 7 May 2008
  6. ^ a b c Four arrested in Cheras demo, Andrew Sagayam, The Star, 9 May 2008
  7. ^ Confirmed - residents can tear down concrete barrier, Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Malaysiakini, 29 April 2008
  8. ^ "Residents raise RM700 to hire lorry", New Straits Times, 29 May 2008
  9. ^ a b Cheers as residents pull down controversial barricade, The Star, 29 May 2008
  10. ^ BMC residents doused and gassed, Andrew Ong, Malaysiakini, 9 May 2008
  11. ^ I would do it again, says assaulted MP, Andrew Ong, Malaysiakini, 9 May 2008
  12. ^ "MP: Police chief must apologise", New Straits Times, 17 May 2008
  13. ^ "Bandar Mahkota Cheras: Suhakam wants police to explain use of force", New Straits Times, 31 May 2008
  14. ^ Barricade row: Court throws out residents' injunction, Syed Jaymal Zahiid, Malaysiakini, 12 May 2008
  15. ^ Construction restarts as court refuses resident’s injunction, The Star, 13 May 2008
  16. ^ a b "Attacked with sticks & helmets", The New Paper, 29 May 2008
  17. ^ Police action on those creating chaos, The Star, 29 May 2008
  18. ^ "Grand Saga denies resorting to thugs", New Straits Times, 29 May 2008
  19. ^ Toll operator: We're not involved in BMC violence, Malaysiakini, 29 May 2008
  20. ^ Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents urge Federal Govt to intervene, Yip Yoke Yeng & Fazleena Aziz, The Star, 29 May 2008
  21. ^ Bandar Mahkota residents take their case to Parliament, The Star, 30 May 2008
  22. ^ Bandar Mahkota fracas a hot topic, Sharon Tan, The Edge Daily, 30 May 2008
  23. ^ Motion on Cheras issue rejected, The Star, 30 May 2008
  24. ^ Cabinet wants BMC access road kept open, Soon Li Tsin, Malaysiakini, 30 May 2008
  25. ^ "Bandar Mahkota Cheras: Cheras road to remain open for now", David Yeow, New Straits Times, 31 May 2008

External links[edit]