KUALA LUMPUR: The Selangor government has withdrawn its approval in principle for the controversial RM2.42 billion Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) project, after the concessionaire cum developer — Kidex Sdn Bhd — failed to fulfil conditions set by the state by the Feb 14 deadline.
Former Petaling Jaya City councillor Derek Fernandez told The Edge Financial Daily that while the proposed project by Kidex Sdn Bhd had been rejected, it does not stop a new company from applying for a fresh concession to undertake the project.
However, in approving the new concession, the conditions will be different from those set by the Selangor government for Kidex Sdn Bhd, he said.
Fernandez said the application will be judged on its merits together with the current national policy of increasing public transportation systems and reducing car usage, which will mean lower priority for expressways and higher priority to set up public transportation systems.
Earlier yesterday, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali announced that Kidex Sdn Bhd — which is owned by the wife of former chief justice Tun Zaki Azmi and Umno lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun — had failed to fulfil the conditions set by the state government.
“Because not a single condition was fulfilled by Kidex by the time of the deadline, the Selangor government hereby announces that the Kidex project is cancelled,” Mohamed Azmin said in a statement.
Among the conditions set by Selangor was for independent traffic and social impact assessments to be conducted in order to prove that the project would benefit not only road users, but also those living along the alignment, as well as the negatives of the project. The state wanted the concessionaire to reveal the toll rate throughout the concession period, including any hikes in between.
It also wanted to know the approximate amount the concessionaire would collect during the concession period and the rate of return on investment. The fourth condition was for the full concession agreement (CA) to be disclosed in line with the Pakatan Rakyat government’s thrust on transparency and accountability.
Mohamed Azmin said the state had also taken into consideration public opinion about the matter in deciding whether a project would be beneficial. “This same approach will be taken in considering applications by other concessionaires for highways planned in Selangor,” he said.
Fernandez said the cancellation of the conditional approval is not abolishing the federal government project.
“They are [just] cancelling the conditional approval for the Kidex project; the approval is one of the terms under the concession,” Fernandez added. Meanwhile, Kidex Sdn Bhd said it will consult Putrajaya on its next course of action after the Selangor government cancelled the project yesterday.
Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Nor Idrus said it will issue an official statement in response to Selangor’s decision after getting Putrajaya’s feedback.
“We will have to consult the federal government first about this,” Mohd Nor said in a brief response to The Malaysian Insider after being told of Selangor’s announcement.
With Kidex, the developer had received approval from Putrajaya when it signed the CA in November 2013. The company has secured an extension to its CA until November 2015.
However, yesterday’s cancellation comes two days after Kidex Sdn Bhd received an extension to its CA with the federal government to build and collect toll from the highway.
The 14.9km expressway was to connect Kinrara in the southern part of the Klang Valley to Bandar Utama in the north and bypass Petaling Jaya.
Its supporters said this would cut down travel time between those areas by 25%. But the project had faced stiff resistance from residents who said it would worsen congestion and pollute their neighbourhoods.
Kidex Sdn Bhd was to have built the highway at a cost of RM2.42 billion. The project was approved by Putrajaya, and Kidex Sdn Bhd had signed a CA to collect toll on the highway. There will be five upcoming toll highways in Selangor, comprising the RM3.4 billion Damansara-Shah Alam Highway, the RM1.55 billion East Klang Valley Expressway, the RM4.18 billion Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Expresssway, the RM2 billion Serdang-Kinrara Putrajaya Expressway, and the RM6 billion West Coast Highway.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 17, 2015.