Main photo: Residents of OC8 Batu Arang doing a recce of the area before starting to clear the land. (Hamzah Osman pic)
PETALING JAYA: Ninety-four families in Rawang, restless over a long delay in receiving their land titles from the Gombak district office, have decided not to wait any longer.
Having apparently reached the limits of their patience after a 35-year wait, the residents of a proposed kampung at OC8 Batu Arang have decided to clear the land themselves even though they are not in possession of the grants.
Hamzah Osman, a member of the committee seeking a resolution to the problem, told FMT the residents had collected RM8,000 so far to fund the work.
The work began last weekend, when a backhoe was hired to level parts of a site where the promised plots are located.
“About 50 of the 94 members arrived to help clear the land,” said Hamzah. “Most of them are already very old. Some even came in their wheelchairs.
“Some of our members have passed away over the years. So their children came to represent their families.”
It was in 1985 that the residents submitted a proposal to the Gombak district and land office for the development of a kampung that would consist of 240 housing lots of 2,800 sq ft each.
The request was approved in 1989, but only 52 of the 94 families have received their land titles. They paid the premium of RM4,523 each. The remaining 42 are still waiting for an update on the status of their grants.
All 94 families are currently living in squatter settlements on state land around Batu Arang.
One major problem is that they do not know the exact borders of their individual plots.
Committee chairman Mat Jaiz Yunos recently said the residents had, over the last 35 years, made multiple efforts to discuss the matter with the district office, the Selangor Menteri Besar’s office and the Selangor Land and Mines Department, but to no avail.
In an email to FMT, the department said it was unable to provide any detailed information on the case as the matter was under the district office. Attempts to reach the district office were unsuccessful.
Hamzah Osman, a member of the committee representing the residents.
Only recently, according to Hamzah, did the committee manage to get in touch with the district office. But he said it could not get a proper response as the authorities were busy handling the 2020 national population census.
“They initially issued the land titles to some of us, but then suddenly stopped halfway,” he said. “They should explain why this is happening.
“We’ve contacted our elected representatives, but there has not been any update from them. They are too busy with their own programmes.”
In a text message to FMT, Rawang assemblyman Chua Wei Kiat said he was planning to arrange a meeting with the Gombak district officer to discuss the matter.
“Previously, with the movement control order, meetings were not allowed,” he said. “I am fixing a meeting as soon as possible.”
Selayang MP William Leong acknowledged the residents’ frustration, but said the issue was complicated and went beyond the issuance of land grants.
Citing Kampung Selayang Baru as an example, Leong said the experience of giving out grants and leaving development work completely in the hands of settlers had shown that it resulted in infrastructure complications.
“We are having a lot of problems in Selayang Baru,” he said. “Trying to solve them would be very costly because there is no proper drainage or roads.
“The reason for the delay with the Malay kampung is that there is no point in giving them a piece of land on which they are unable to build their own houses.
“What we need is to get a contractor, developer or body that is able to carry out this infrastructure work and redo the identification of the plots so that each person is given an area he can actually build a house upon.”
He added that the matter was in the final stages of discussion with the Selangor housing board, Lembaga Perumahan Hartanah Selangor.
“We are trying to reorganise the structuring of this programme,” he said. “The new chairman is finalising it. As soon as it is done, we will be calling the settlers in to let them know the latest situation.”