BUTTERWORTH: THE 12ha land in Ampang Jajar here, offered for sale by the state government to religious institutions, is “virtually valueless”, claim nearby residents.
Sundry shop owner P. Bala, 50, said the presence of three sewage ponds and a solid waste storage area had made the 32 lots of land unappealing to developers.
“The land is virtually valueless because no developer wants to buy the land because it would be hard to get buyers.
“Luxury or high-rise condominiums and triple-storey houses in this area will not fetch a good price. For example, the two-and-a-half storey housing here is only going for RM400,000 and it is mostly occupied by foreign workers,” he said here yesterday.
Bala, who lives and operates his shop at Taman Ampang Jajar People’s Housing Project (PPR) which is beside the 12ha land, said the poor and optionless were the only occupants in the area.
“The only housing here is low-cost flats, PPR and houses converted into foreign workers’ hostels.
“We, the poor, cannot object to the houses because the state government will then make it difficult for us to get a low-cost house in a different area,” he claimed, adding that the stench from the sewage ponds was unbearable.
“It is unfair for the state government to push the land onto the poor and religious institutions.”
A week ago, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was offering the land for places of worship.
He said 32 lots, varying from 6,000 sq ft to 0.4ha, would be available on a 99-year lease at a special rate, to be determined by the Valuation and Property Services Department of the Finance Ministry.
Following reports that the land was located next to a sewage pond, state Public Works, Utilities and Public Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng claimed the land was far away from the sewage ponds.
He said there was also some 500 car-park lots and another 30.5m between the sewage plant and the land.
Checks by New Straits Times revealed that the three huge sewage ponds were visible from the PPR flats and another low-cost flat nearby. Also visible was the solid waste storage area.
PPR resident Kai Gaik Lee, 36, said she had heard that the land had been offered to developers, but they did not want it based on the state government’s offer to religious institutions.
“There is good demand for land here, which is causing the price to go up. However, this land had been vacant for a long time.
“I do not blame the developers for rejecting this land because the stench is unbearable, so it would be hard to get buyers.”
Taman Ampang Jajar has been plagued with problems, starting from ground settlement problems to the foul stench from the sewage pond.
The project, which consisted of 130 two-and-a-half storey terrace houses and a PPR project, was built on reclaimed land.
Resident V. Thanimalai, 48, said there were ground settlement problems after the project was completed in 2008.
“The ground started to sink and cracks appeared on brick walls, as well as under the beams.
“The developer was forced to fix the problems, but the damage was already done,” he said.
It was reported that in 2008, the developers were not given the occupancy certificate by the Seberang Prai Municipal Council until they rectified the ground settlement problems.
Resident Lim Ah Leng, 54, said residents were worried that the vacant and unlocked units on the three highest floors would be a den for criminals and drug addicts.
“These units are unoccupied because of leaking ceilings and the foul stench from the sewage pond. Previous occupants could not put up with the stench and left.
“The units are now empty, unlocked and dark at night, which makes them perfect for criminals and drug addicts,” he said.