“Private barricade” sparks disputes in Richmond Hill posh neighbourhood

Royal Richmond Gold Condominium at Richmond Hill, Kuching.

Follow and subscribe to DayakDaily on Telegram for faster news updates.

By Ling Hui and Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 12: Are residents allowed to create their own “private and gated neighbourhood” by putting up a physical barrier with a guardhouse and boom gate to enforce exit and entry restrictions on a public ‘lorong’ (lane) of a residential area in Sarawak?

This is the question raised by the residents of Royal Richmond Gold Condominium (Royal Richmond) located within Kuching’s finest neighbourhood of Richmond Hill, who after moving in seven months ago, found that there is a guardhouse and a boom gate set on the road leading to the main entrance of their condominium.

These residents claimed to be victims of the “private barricade” where for more than seven months, they can only use the back door of the condo to enter the building since they are denied access to the road leading directly to the proper front entrance of the condo.

Grievances aired by Royal Richmond residents

The guardhouse and boom gate are set up at Lorong Stampin Tengah 5E of Taman Shefford View, the road that leads to the main entrance of the condominium.

Due to the private barricade, the residents have no choice but to use Jalan Datuk Bandar Mustapha, which is now the only route to get in and out of their newly-purchased homes.

This has been happening since May 2020, when the property was handed over to the residents by the developers.  

It is already a grave frustration that they are deprived of the usage of the main road leading to their condo. The situation is made worse when the entire stretch of Jalan Datuk Bandar Mustapha all the way from the Simpang Tiga flyover to Jalan Penrissen, is a busy road, where heavy traffic and congestion is a constant feature during peak hours.

To the condominium residents, it was not only ridiculous that some people can just lay claim on a public road and prohibit others from using it, but it is also beyond their understanding that they have to pay a price for such a wrong-doing by bearing with the inconvenience.  

An aerial view of the location of the guardhouse and boom gate, and Royal Richmond.

“How would you feel when you spent half a million to buy a unit in a condo and you are not allowed to use the main road leading to the condo but force to make a detour and enter you own condo through the backdoor?,” a Royal Richmond resident asked.

The residents tried to reason with the guards at the guardhouse before to allow passage but to no avail. They just cannot use Lorong Stampin Tengah 5E as the security guard will not give in.

“But we cannot always use the backdoor,” said one of the four Royal Richmond residents who wished to remain anonymous when he contacted Dayakdaily with hopes of bringing the matter to light so that actions can be taken against what they claimed to be “an unlawful erection of the barricade”.

“The act of erecting the barrier on a public road is illegal and not in compliance with the law. Such action is tantamount to privatising the road which legally belongs to the State government and meant for the access of the general public,” one of the residents added. 

As far as they know, the Shefford View housing area is not a gated and guarded development that allows the construction of the barrier over a state land road for the exclusive use of the residents of Lorong 5E Shefford View. 

Vehicles without access cards are prohibited from exiting or entering Taman Shefford View which is the only way to the Royal Richmond main entrance.

The developer, the authorities and the residents

Despite various attempts, the Royal Richmond residents tried to reach out to the developer and Kuching South City Council (MBKS) to resolve the matter.

According to a letter from Land and Survey Department to the developer dated Sept 25, 2020, Royal Richmond residents were very certain that their condo is accessible from two entrances—from the 20m new road (Jalan Datuk Bandar Mustapha) and Lorong Stampin Tengah 5E vide SPA Approval Plan dated Jan 15, 2015 as stated that “both are to be used as normal entrances/exits”. 

Actually on Aug 24, 2020, Land and Survey Department Kuching Division issued a notice to Taman Shefford View Residents Community chairman to remove the guardhouse and boom gate within 14 days. 

“Investigation by this office has found that you have intruded into government land known as Lot 11721 Block 16 Kuching Central Land District at Lorong 5E Jalan Stampin Tengah, Kuching with the construction of a guardhouse and placing roadblock at the entrance,” said Land and Survey Department.

The residents did not hide the fact that on Oct 24, 2019, a picket was held by the residents of Lorong 5E Taman Shefford View opposing the lane to be turned into the main road leading to the condominium.

Following that protest incident, Land and Survey Department on Oct 28, 2019 issued a letter to the developer, stating that the “lorong” was to serve only for emergency, scavenging and servicing purposes and not to be converted into the main access.

On this, the Royal Richmond residents argued that the notices from the Land and Survey Department dated Aug 24, 2020 and Sept 25, 2020 should supersede the letter dated Oct 28, 2019. 

Supposedly the main entrance to Royal Richmond, but the gate is unguarded and somewhat abandoned.

Apart from the Land and Survey Department, the condominium residents also tried to demand the developer to resolve the issue. There has yet to have a positive outcome. 

The residents thus sent a letter of warning to the developer on March 1 this year, demanding the developer to undertake necessary means to get rid of the gate barrier in two months’ time, failing which a legal suit may ensue.

A shattered dream

Following the failure in removing the “private barricade”, the group of representatives from Royal Richmond decided to contact Kuching South City Council (MBKS) via emails and phone calls to resolve the matter.

According to one of the residents, he had sent several emails to MBKS in the past but has yet to receive any response. A report has also been lodged via the iPeople-Qmunity mobile apps on March 3.

An email was also sent to an MBKS councillor on March 8 following a telephone conversation, but so far, there is no reply from MBKS. In the meantime, the residents are awaiting eagerly any kind of responses or actions to be taken by the authorities.  

To them, it is a dream to be able to own a unit in a condominium strategically located, easily accessible and highly guarded. Their dream, however, has shattered when they can’t even access the main road leading to the main entrance of their condominium. — DayakDaily