Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mega development plan proposed for Pudu Prison land - The Star

Jun 17, 2008 Stories by JAYAGANDI JAYARAJ

THE land on which the 113- year-old Pudu Prison is located has been identified as one of the major sites for mega development in the Draft KL City Plan 2020.

The colonial era prison was taken over by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in November 1996 after it was officially closed.

First sight: The arch leading to the inner sanctum of the prison's X-shaped main block.

The land on which the prison structure stands has been earmarked for mixed development in the draft plan.

That means 70% of the land will be used for a commercial hub and 30% for residential development.

There are five plots involved in the proposed plan submitted by the UDA to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in July 2005.

Plots 1, 2 and 5 are proposed for commercial buildings, including a 33-storey office tower, a shopping complex, a 43-storey hotel tower and a 44-storey serviced apartment tower.

Familiar site: A look at the famous Pudu Prison mural and some of the buildings within the compound.

The old prison mosque will be maintained while plots 3 and 4 will feature two blocks of 44-storey condominiums on each plot. There is also a 1.2ha park proposed in the plan.

The proposal also involves the widening of Jalan Pudu and making a new traffic way at Jalan Changkat Thamby Abdullah to create a dedicated entrance to the development site.

The Hang Tuah monorail station will also be integrated with the proposed development site to create easy accessibility for the public.

According to DBKL town planning director Mahadi Che Ngah, the proposed plan has been discussed by the town planning committee and examined by former mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan when UDA submitted it in 2005.

Infamous resident: A file picture of Botak Chin who served time and was executed at Pudu Prison.

However, due to the proposal’s high density, the UDA was told to scale down the development.

“At present, the traffic condition along Jalan Hang Tuah is already bad. The developers have to find a good solution to tackle the traffic problems,” Mahadi said.

Hard work: Khong Yen Chong showing the award he received for painting the mural when he was an inmate at the prison in the 1980s.

“They can perhaps employ consultants to do traffic impact studies and make proposals on improving flow,” he said.

Mahadi said a major development with such a magnitude in Kuala Lumpur would enhance the confidence of local and foreign investors to invest in the city.

“In a way, if we do not propose this site for redevelopment, we are not encouraging other dilapidated properties in the city to be redeveloped by its owner. That kind of approach is not good for the city,” he said.

Mahadi: UDA submitted a proposal to develop the area in 2005 but was told to scale it down.

“If Kuala Lumpur is not booming who will want to come to the city?” Mahadi told StarMetro during an interview last week.

Mahadi said although the Pudu Prison was a well-known historical landmark in the city centre, its large area of 8.8ha should logically be capitalised in the city’s land development usage.

He said city development planning was always about striking a balance and there would always be a conflict in ideals and perception among various interest groups.

“But, as a city maker, we have to decide what is best for Kuala Lumpur by looking at benefits it has to offer,” Mahadi said.

“If there was a strong need to maintain part of the structure of the old prison building, then we would preserve it but probably not the entire site,” he said.

Mahadi said the UDA application status had lapsed since it was rejected for revision by City Hall.

“UDA was supposed to have come back to us within 30 days but it has been three years and there is no feedback from it on the plans. Based on our standard practice, the proposal is considered lapsed,” Mahadi said.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lorries turn area into cowboy town - The Star

Jun 15, 2008 By CHRISTINA LOW

HOW would you like to live in an area where more than 50 lorries laden with sand are driven to and fro in front of your house daily?

This is what residents of Taman Sri Segambut and a neighbouring residential area known as Bamboo Garden have to bear with daily.

Speaking out: Lim (right) listening intently as Saw explains his side of the story.

The lorries are used to carry sand from an area at the end of the road.

“They move in and out carrying sand daily and we had to shut our windows and doors because it is just too dusty,” Wong Kong Ban, 57, said.

On top of the noise and dust pollution, the safety of the residents, especially children and old folks, is also threatened.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng visited the site recently to see how bad the situation was after receiving numerous phone calls and complaint letters from the residents.

Lim said Batu MP Tian Chua had also informed him of the problem as the area borders both the constituencies.

Chua, who had also been approached by residents to help them resolve the matter, had sent a letter to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) last month.

Off they go: Lorries transporting sand out of the area.
He had asked the DBKL whether the sand removal activities had the approval from the authorities, but there was no reply from City Hall.

During a recent StarMetro visit to the site, the workers there shouted at the journalists.

“We have no choice but to use the residential road as there is no access road out to Jalan Kuching from here,” a worker said.

The residents claimed that the lorries had also driven through the playground as an alternative route out of the site.

They had not only damaged a section of the park but also the concrete slabs on drains.

However, an officer in charge of the site, who only wanted to be known as Saw, denied that they had used the playground.

“We don’t use the playground at all, only the road leading to Bamboo Garden,” Saw said.

He also said the workers were not there to steal sand but to take the sand in to be cleaned before transporting it out to construction sites.

“We have been renting the lot for three months now, and there are three more months before our contract ends,” Saw said.

Asked whether the site had been approved by the DBKL for such works, Saw evaded the question but went on to say that the workers had always cleaned the roads after finishing their work each day.

DBKL’s Segambut branch manager Norhaslinda Nordin also inspected the site, the first time she has visited the place, and took note of several matters.

Norhaslinda claimed that the DBKL did not receive Chua’s letter and was not aware of the problem.

“We will check thoroughly before taking further action,” Norhaslinda said.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Solar-powered parking meters

Solar-powered parking meters

Jun12, 2008 By FAZLEENA AZIZ

THE Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will replace the present parking meters with the new electronic parking system SLKE in the city by next week.

The new Pay and Display scheme will see electronic machines placed at strategic locations to allow motorists to pay parking fees using cash or on credit via the Mykad.

Cash or credit: The new Electronic Parking System (SLKE) machine that will be installed at strategic locations in the city.

According to KL mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan, the solar-powered system is user friendly.

The operation period is from 7.30am to 10pm and the hourly parking rate is maintained at 80 sen in the city centre and 50 sen outside the city centre.

The first phase for the new system covers Bukit Bintang, Masjid India, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kampung Baru, Chow Kit, Pudu, Kompleks Damai and Loke Yew, which will be operational from next Monday.

The second phase and following phases will be implemented progressively according to areas by August.

“There is no cost on the part of the DBKL part but we have an installer and operators for the parking system,” Hakim said during a meet-the-press session yesterday.

Hakim also said that the system would be helpful in areas where they were illegal operators and jockeys.

The machines will be stationed at every 20 parking spaces and 50 enforcement officers will be on duty at four main zones, where the parking meters are installed.

The DBKL will pay RM1.50 a day to the system installer company for each parking space. An operator will be hired to handle collection and maintenance at every parking zones.

Asked about his recent “study trip” to Europe and Canada organised by the Federal Territories Ministry, the DBKL and Putrajaya Corporation, Hakim said the ministry would submit a report to the cabinet.

On the current government belt-tightening measures, Hakim said the DBKL would adhere to the cost-cutting and cost-saving agenda.

“We will save electricity by minimising the use of lights and air conditioners.

“The use of stationeries, events and the use of office vehicles will be minimised,” Hakim said.

“We will evaluate the need for having courses, overseas and local trips as well as other programmes,” he said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Towards developing world-class status for KL - The Star

Jun 11, 2008 Stories by BAVANI M (bavanim@thestar.com.my)

SOME quarters think that by increasing the Kuala Lumpur population of 1.6 million to 2.2 million by 2020 will result in density increases beyond sustainable limits.

And this would inadvertently results in poorer quality of life, traffic and crowd congestion, air and noise pollution and even unemployment.

But there are others who believe that if a city population declines it would lead to decay or even ruin, and eventually turned the once vibrant city into a ghost town.

Renewal: Changes are in the offing in KL.

The Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 envisions Kuala Lumpur as a world-class city with its residents living quality lifestyles despite a projected population increase of 600,000 by 2020.

The plan states that for Kuala Lumpur to progress and prosper, sustainable development is the only way to achieve it.

According to town planner Norliza Hashim, this is only possible if the people are willing to change their lifestyle patterns and make compromises.

She pointed out that the current land use pattern was the direct result of past practices and development trends, which were based on single land use zoning.

“Things have changed, trends have changed, market forces with environmental concerns requires new and integrated approach to land use planning,’’ she said.

Norliza said to become a world-class city, there must be a more flexible approach at land use zoning.

According to Norliza, some of the coordinated efforts in ensuring and supporting the city’s growth to cater for needs of its population include allocating land for future requirements, facilitating use of land and buildings, regulating incompatible land use and activities, integrating transport and spatial development, encouraging mixed-use development and transforming, and regenerating Brownfield sites and urban villages.

“Apart from the need to protect the environment and public open spaces, improving the traffic situation and upgrading public amenities, it is also time for people to embrace mixed use development,’’ Norliza said.

She pointed out that mixed-use development encouraged a balance of housing, employment, commercial and other community facilities in the same area.

“Working and living in the same area reduce travel time. Mixed development helps achieve intensive development by using the same space for more than one purpose,” Norliza said.

A valid point and one endorsed by Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) KL branch secretary Tan Ching Meng.

Tan said for KL to compete with other world-class cities it must move with the times.

“KL cannot be frozen by history and traditions. To advance, it needs to transform with the times and undergo a rejuvenation pro-cess,’’ he said.

A good example cited by both Norliza and Tan are Singapore’s Tao Payoh township and Bugis Street, which have successfully undergone regeneration process incorporating mixed-use development.

“There are commercial, retail, residential and transit stations nearby and, despite the lack in open spaces, the residents are enjoying a quality lifestyle,’’ Norliza said.

She said this could also happen in KL with proper planning and integrated development within the inner city.

According to Norliza, in most of the world-class cities, such Vancouver in Canada, the city is well integrated with high-rise buildings and yet could also boast the most number of parks.

Norliza said this could be done in Malaysia if the people recognised and accepted the fact that the way of modern life was high-rise and no longer horizontal.

Tan, meanwhile, said KL should not be stilted in comparison to its conurbations, the aggregations of urban areas.

“The capital city should be the liveliest in the country, with individual interest balanced with the overall needs of the KL residents,’’ he said.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Study trips to Germany and Canada under fire - The Star

Jun 4, 2008 BY BAVANI M

A STUDY trip to a city in Europe and Canada organised by the Federal Territory Ministry, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Putrajaya Corporation has not gone down well with Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai.

The one-week trip from May 30 until June 7 is to study better ways of managing a city.

It involves a delegation of 15 high-ranking officers, including FT Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique and KL mayor Datuk Abdul Hakim Borhan.

Tan said the trip was unnecessary and a waste of money.

“Why must they go to Europe to study how to manage cities?” queried Tan. “Why can't they go to Singapore, Hong Kong or Taipei to learn?

Meanwhile, when contacted the minister's principal private secretary Shazril Fariza said the study tour to the two cities, Vancouver in Canada and Berlin in Germany was approved by the cabinet.

“The ministry picked these two cities because both have an excellent local governance system and a perfect place to learn.

“The ministry feels you cannot run a city the old way and in order to become a world-class city one must incorporate new ideas and ways and that's what this study tour is all about,'' said Shazril.

He added the delegation would also study ways to manage trafficcongestion and address environmental issues more efficiently.