Baffled over non- action on KK squatter colony
Published on: Wednesday, November 18, 2020
By: Sidney Skinner
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There is concern about how the Covid-19 status of those living in this Karamunsing Colony might impact the public.
A KARAMUNSING employee cannot understand why City Hall has failed to have a squatter colony removed from behind his office, six months after his employer officially informed the agency that the adjacent land was being illegally occupied.

The individual said City Hall’s inaction was troubling, as the questionable Covid-19 status of those occupying the property put him and his colleagues at risk of contracting the disease.

He said his boss raised this concern to the Mayor in a letter dated May 29.

Given the spike in Covid-19 cases around the State Capital, he was unhappy that the agency was not taking the squatter problem seriously.

The office worker felt this made a mockery of City Hall’s pledge to make Kota Kinabalu “setinggan sifar (squatter-free)”.

He said the agency’s staff seemed to be more bothered with scaring off beggars than clearing away persons who had illegally settled on someone else’s land.

The employee decried this as a double-standard, saying that both vagrants and squatters presented potential health risks to the public.

He was of the opinion that equal priority should be accorded when it came to tackling the problems arising from both groups. 

The individual provided Hotline with the location of the squatter colony in question. This information was forwarded to the agency.

A City Hall spokeswoman acknowledged receipt of the correspondence in May, saying a check was made of the area behind the Karamunsing premises in Jalan Tangki.

“Our enforcement officers confirmed that structures had been illegally put up on two pieces of private land, near the building, during the inspection,” she said.

“The individual property owners were notified about these findings and instructed to remedy this problem, including having the illegal structures demolished.”

She said both landowners had agreed to comply with these instructions and update City Hall accordingly.

The spokeswoman said the office worker’s employer had been kept apprised of these developments, with City Hall writing to the firm in August.

When asked about the extent of the property owners’ action before the Conditional Control Movement Order (CMCO) came into effect, she said one of the pair had tried to deal with the encroachers.

“Eviction notices were served to the squatters, warning them that further action could be taken if they did not leave after a month.

“We are still waiting to hear from the second owner who is based in Kuala Lumpur.”

She said the agency’s enforcement staff would contact this individual for a progress report.

The spokeswoman stressed that City Hall could merely oversee any efforts to remove the squatters from the land.

“The onus is on the individual property owners to execute the eviction of the squatters, and demolition of any illegal structures, including houses, from their respective parcels.” 

She said the agency was keeping an eye on similar squatter-related woes in parts of the State Capital.

“Besides this one in Karamunsing, we are also monitoring the goings-on involving some vacant land, off Jalan Bukit Bendera Upper, in Likas.”

VIN of Karamunsing said his employer expressed his misgivings about the suspicious activities taking place at the back of their office earlier this year.

“My boss had noticed that a community of unknown people, including children, had gathered on the land,” he said.

“Structures, which looked like houses, had been erected on the property for them to live in.”

The business-operator wanted to know if these individuals had received prior permission to do this from both the landowner and City Hall, according to him. 

Vin said his employer wrote to the latter in May.

“In his letter, he highlighted his fears about the impact the squatters might have on the health and security of the public living and working here, especially as more of these individuals had been seen accessing the area.

“He also expressed his concern about the dubious garbage disposal and sanitation facilities at the colony and the consequence this might have on the well-being of the surrounding environment.”

In June, when no reply was forthcoming from City Hall, Vin lodged a police report about this matter.

“My boss feared that something untoward might happen to either the staff or management as a result of the complaint we had made with City Hall.”

Vin contacted Hotline four months later bemoaning, the agency’s failure to have the squatters cleared from the land. 

“I understand that some of the illegal houses were demolished, at one point, during the CMCO,” he said. 

“But those that were torn down were rebuilt a few days later.

“I fear that these illegal structures are mushrooming on the property and that the situation may get out of hand if the local authorities do not intervene.” 


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