‘Cost, land availability among criteria for low-cost houses’

THE COST and availability of land are among the factors the state government had to look into to construct low-cost houses within the city centre.

Assistant Minister of Housing Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said if the government through its agencies were to acquire lands that are situated within the city, house buyers would have to pay quite a high compensation for their house.

“This would in a way increase the cost of development or construction for these houses which would not be feasible for the government to do and that’s why most of the low-cost houses in the state are placed near to the fringe of the city,” he said when responding to a question by David Wong Kee Woan (DAP-Pelawan) on the distance of low-cost houses under the 11th Malaysia Plan from city centre at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.

Abdul Karim said there was no specific mileage on how far low-cost houses should be built as there were some that were built within the city centre.

“But most of the time, we will try to look for landed property that are within the fringe of the city. That’s why in Kuching, you see a lot of them in Matang, Batu Gong as well as many that are coming up in Demak whereas in Sibu, you can see them in Rantau Panjang and Sibu Jaya.”

On a related question from Yap Hoi Liong (DAP-Dudong) regarding the number of low-cost houses built throughout the state from 2015 to 2017, Abdul Karim said various state and federal agencies had completed the building of 500 units of low-cost houses in Miri this year while a total of 439 low-cost houses and 113 People Friendly Houses (Rumah Mesra Rakyat) in Kuching would be completed next year.

“Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has proposed to build 8,361 units of low-cost houses in Kuching, 405 units in Sibu, 1,512 units in Bintulu, 1,905 units in Miri, 372 units in Mukah, 500 units in Limbang, 380 units in Kapit and 98 units in Kanowit.

“However, the implementation of these projects is subject to availability of fund approved by the government,” he noted.

He added that for the private sector, the number of low-cost houses to be built in future would depend on the private sector’s application.

“For 2015, the number of approved low-cost houses under the private sector as at November in Kuching is 27 units and Bintulu 45 units. There was no application approved yet for Sibu, Miri, Mukah, Limbang and Kapit.

This prompted Yap to question why no applications were approved for Sibu, which led Abdul Karim to retort that the approval for low-cost housing depended on the demand.

“As it is, if you were to check in Sibu, there are low-cost houses already constructed in Rantau Panjang and Sibu Jaya. I’m not too sure if you’ve got your record right on this, that there’s no approval for Sibu,” he remarked.

“My answer earlier on was that there’s no application for Sibu but there are low-cost houses being constructed in Sibu and I can say that Sibu has got quite a big chunk of low-cost houses that have been approved,” he added.

On what measures the state government would take to safeguard the quality of low-cost houses, Abdul Karim said two mechanisms were used to achieve this.

“The first mechanism is to ensure that at the planning approval stage, low-cost houses fulfil the requirements of the Development Control Standard (DCS) and other planning requirements in terms of sizes of the houses, setbacks, roading, open spaces, amenities and facilities.”

“The second mechanism is at the Building Approval stage where building design and structure are regulated through the Building Ordinance and issuance of Occupation Permit (OP). The issuance of OP will be done once the Qualified Submitting Person (QSP) certifies that the construction and completion are in compliance with the approved plan.”

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