MRT Corp gives Ampang Park owners more time to consider options

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(Oct 27): Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) has given Ampang Park Shopping Centre owners until Jan 31 to take up its offer of a mutual agreement.

The option is offered as an alternative to the government’s compulsory acquisition of the land to build the Ampang Park MRT station.

At a media briefing, MRT Corp commercial and stakeholder relations director Haris Fadzilah Hassan said Jan 31 was the longest they could wait for the owners’ decision.

"We need to start construction of the station in next April so, we must give the Kuala Lumpur District and Land Office time to proceed with the land acquisition process if the mutual agreement fails."

Haris said the details of the mutual agreement, such as relocation costs and rental compensations, would be ironed out, but first, all 253 owners had to agree to the option.

"Due to the nature of the ownership of the mall, all owners must come to a common agreement before discussions can be taken to the next level.

"We are not sure what the 253 owners want to develop on the land."

Haris said MRT Corp would only bear the costs of rebuilding a like-for-like mall. "If they want a bigger building, they would have to pay the differential amount."

He said MRT Corp would be meeting the owners again next week as discussions were ongoing.

"The land acquisition is in progress but we can inform the land administrator to put it on hold if the owners choose to enter into a mutual agreement with us."

Haris said it was crucial that Ampang Park MRT be built there for the seamless integration of the MRT SSP Line with the LRT Kelana Jaya line.

On why MRT had to acquire the entire plot of land when the MRT station would only occupy a portion of it, Haris said the primary reason was safety.

He said that due to the building's age, the way it was constructed and facilites like a central air conditioning system, it would not be feasible to demolish only a portion of the building and leave the rest operational.

"We need the building because we are constructing a station, unlike at other places like Jalan Sultan, where were only building a tunnel and did not need the surface area," he said, adding that MRT Corp would need the area vacated for seven years to build the station.

Should the land acquisition proceed, he said, the owners would be paid  compensation by the government.

Haris said the compensation amount was usually based on market prices.

"The government valuers will calculate the compensation amount, but owners can appoint their own valuers if they wish to challenge the valuation."

He said the cost of hiring a valuer would be borne by the government.

On October 20, The Malaysian Insider reported that Ampang Park Shopping Centre owners were still in limbo after a meeting with the management of the mall.

Ampang Park 1Malaysia Traders Association vice-president Wan Kamal Izzuddin Wan had said that many of their queries on the land acquisition remained unanswered.

“The owners and tenants are upset that the Ampang Park Management Corporation did not notify them of the proposed acquisition, despite having known about it for nine months,” he said.

Wan Kamal said the owners were also unhappy that MRT Corp, whose  representatives were also present at the meeting, had not proposed alternative sites for the station.

He also wished to know why MRT Corp insisted on knocking down the entire building when the Ampang Park MRT Station would only take up a portion of the land, and questioned the "verbal" nature of the mutual agreement offer.

“We want to see the details; where is the black and white? How can we be party to a mutual agreement without seeing the terms and conditions?” he said. – The Malaysian Insider