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Friday, November 30, 2012

New KL mayor to revive Plaza Rakyat project

But Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun expressed doubts, saying several attempts to restart the abandoned project have failed.
KUALA LUMPUR: The long-abandoned Plaza Rakyat project might be revived in the near future as the new Kuala Lumpur mayor Ahmad Phesal Talib has promised to appoint a new contractor for the project.
At a press conference after meeting with KL MPs yesterday, Ahmad Phesal said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is going through an arbitration process with the original contractor, Plaza Rakyat Sdn Bhd (PRSB), with RHB Bank being the arbitrator.
This followed the decision by the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry to terminate PRSB contract in 2010, 12 years after the company abandoned the mixed-development project.
Ahmad Phesal, 58, who was appointed the new mayor for a two-year term starting July 18, did not disclose the time frame for the arbitration to complete.
However, he said the new contractor would be appointed after the arbitration has ended, with the consent of RHB Bank.
But Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, who was present, expressed scepticism on the revival plan, saying that the project, which was launched in 1994, has never been successfully reactivated despite attempts from different mayors and ministers.
“I remember when the project was launched, Time Square hasn’t been built yet. But it has gone through such a long time, even some of purchasers have passed away,” he told reporters.
Located next to the Pudu Sentral transport hub, Plaza Rakyat was supposed to be a RM1.4 billion project comprising a 79-storey building, a 290-room four-star hotel and a service apartment.
However, construction stopped in 1998 following the Asian financial crisis and several attempts to revive the project were unsuccessful.
Affordable housing
Ahmad Phesal also announced that DBKL would build affordable housing with the ceiling price of RM300,000 and minimal built-up space of 800 sq ft on government land.
He said the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry is drafting a guideline on the matter, which will take into account the percentage of affordable housing needed to be built by developers in the future.
On the integrated traffic information system (ITIS), which critics said was a failure, the mayor said DBKL will conduct an open tender in January to improve it.
The system, installed in 2004 and managed by three companies, features closed-circuit television and variable message signs to inform motorists of the traffic situation and the alternative routes to take in Kuala Lumpur.
However, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar pointed out that the new “improvements” would cost ratepayers an additional RM300 million, on the top of the RM300 million used previously.
“KL folks will have to bear RM600 million in total due to the ITIS fiasco,” she said.
Meanwhile, on the land dispute in Bukit Kiara Park, Ahmad Phesal said DBKL was ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court this year to alienate 62 acres of land from the park to developer Berjaya Corporation Bhd.
The residents in Bukit Kiara have been asking DBKL to acquire the plot of land from Berjaya, but the court has ruled in favour of the developer and ordered DBKL to split the plot of land out from the 423-acre park.
The mayor said DBKL has proposed to the developer to build a hospital, community facilities or an international school on the plot of land.
Also present at the meeting were Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, and Batu MP Tian Chua.

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