In the original plan, the tunnel was clearly shown to pass through underneath the VIP bungalow, which based on the arguments put forth by SPAD and Pemandu so far, necessitates the acquisition of the land. The original plan is attached in Diagram A. The contract for the tunnel “portal” has already been awarded and works commenced near the site.
Diagram A: Original Alignment
Diagram B: New Alignment
However, for reasons best known to the authorities, the works on the original site has now been stopped, the tunnel portal relocated and a variation order has been issued to the contractor. The last minute tunnel realignment can be seen in the updated plan shown in Diagram B, where the tunnel no longer passes underneath the VIP house.
The costly and last minute change flies in the face of SPAD and Pemandu’s arguments that the tunnel route has already been optimised and finalised and is no longer subject to change. The tunnel route, passing through Chinatown and Bukit Bintang has sparked protests from landowners in the areas because of the authorities’ intent to acquire all land above the tunnel.
This is despite the fact that we have argued that the Government is able to, under the amended Land Acquisition Act, acquire the underground land without having to affect the land and its use on the surface. Alternatively, the land owners have suggested that the tunnel routes can be realigned to prevent the costly and inconvenient acquisitions. However, the Government has to date, refused acquiesce to the requests from the landowners.
Now with the fact that SPAD did indeed make a realignment concession to “save” a VIP’s bungalow house from being affected by the tunnel route, the Government must explain its hypocrisy and double-standards in dealing with the above issues. On the one hand, the Government remains stubborn in refusing to hear out the pleas of the landowners and traders in Jalan Sultan and Bukit Bintang, many of whom have been earning a living there for decades, while on the other hand, the Government goes out of its way to save a luxury bungalow, despite its cost to the taxpayers.