The demand for public housing is a never-ending problem as the population keeps increasing but the high cost and scarcity of land, especially in the urban areas, are a big constraint on the authorities in their bid to build affordable houses for the people.
So, it is ironic that five blocks of 13-storey flats built under the Public Housing Projects (PPR) programme in Kelana Jaya, with 1,580 fully completed units, are left to rot for several years.
No notice board has been put up at the PPR project site to explain what the problem is, but word is going around that the buildings built on a former landfill are not fit for occupation.
Maintenance workers at the site said they had heard claims that the soil emitted contaminated gas which could cause health problems.
According to the workers, the buildings had actually been left empty for nearly five years.
A clue to this heavily cloaked mystery was literally “unearthed” when a family of a nearby terrace house renovated their house in May last year.
The family was shocked to discover that their house was standing precariously on just a thin layer of soil measuring only 15cm in depth and there was nothing but compressed garbage underneath.
“Plastic bags, tyres, styrofoams — these were what we found. That is the foundation of our house,” Nana Tan said.
“We bought the house with our life savings. This is our only house and we are still paying for it with our hard-earned money. Imagine the big blow when we found out what lay underneath our home,” she said.
Tan said she had no choice but to spend a big sum of money to excavate the garbage and fill up the hollow with soil.
“The workers dug out tonnes of rubbish. The lorries had to make almost 20 trips just to dispose of the mess,” she said.
The complaint was brought to the attention of Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne and Subang MP R. Sivarasa,
Loh and Sivarasa’s aide Aloysius Francis Pinto visited the site last year and filed a report with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the Selangor state government.
Loh told StarMetro yesterday that they had checked through many channels and had pressed for a solution, but their efforts came to a dead end when they found out that the housing estate was developed by a subsidiary of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).
“The state is in need of more PPR housing units for the people and the five blocks are as good as abandoned. This is a waste of ratepayers’ money and the people must be told what is happening,” Pinto said, when contacted.
“Termite infestation, foul smell, mosquitoes, all these are there but why isn’t any action taken?” he asked.
Today, six months after their site visit, they are still unable to get an answer from the authorities.
Meanwhile, a study conducted by the solid waste laboratory of Universiti Malaya confirmed the area’s surface soil contamination and residents are advised to refrain from agricultural activities.
The study revealed that the landfill closed in 2000 was formerly a mining area.
During its operational period, it received a total volume of 1.57 million cubic metres of solid waste.
The lack of a liner system caused the land to be contaminated by waste residue, leachate and landfill gases.
About half of the houses are unoccupied. A check with the current occupants, who are mostly tenants, revealed that they knew little about soil contamination, let alone the questionable stability of the buildings’ foundation.
A house owner, who had just bought the property, said he did not know about the area’s landfill problem but heard that he was not supposed to plant fruit trees there.
“I like this place. It is peaceful and strategically located,” he said.
It is apparent that cracks are appearing in many of the houses, while the grounds have shown some signs of cave-in.
The fact that a condominium is standing right next to these terrace houses is also worrying.
But developer Selaman Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Yaacob Jailani insisted that the company’s houses built near the PPR site had a strong foundation and there was no risk to the residents.
“It is safe to stay there because the houses are on piles, and had been further reinforced with suspended slabs. There is no reason for worry,” he said when contacted.
Yaacob said the landfill had been closed for quite some time and the company’s consultant engineers had confirmed that the area was fit for development, adding that the MBPJ had granted them approval.
He said the 120 terrace houses in the area and two blocks of low-cost five-storey apartments further away, had received the certificate of fitness for occupation three years ago.
Yaacob said he did not know what was wrong with the PPR flats because they were under another developer.
Efforts to contact the MBPJ on the matter were futile.
MAYBE…..after I do some homework…but it will come!
On an adjacent landfill next to these 5 blocks of PPR abandoned flats
will rise a 5 blocks 15 storey commercial complex. I pass this everyday.
The developer is now excavating the remains of the landfill and trucks after trucks line two exits.