KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad is expected to engage with traders along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR) on the government’s plans to close the road off to private vehicles, the city mayor has said.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said that feedback was sought from some traders before the decision, but said further feedback from traders will be sought next week.
“We take (into account) all (feedback), whatever it is, we wait for walkabout and discussions with the minister next week and also with the relevant MPs like the Bukit Bintang MP,” he told reporters when met here after the launch of the elevated link bridge connecting the Old Klang Road to the New Pantai Expressway (OKR-NPE Link Bridge) built by Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).
When asked if the decision was final, Nor Hisham said: “That is up to the minister. We will discuss again with those from that area.”
Nor Hisham said the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had yesterday received a memorandum from traders along Jalan TAR, adding that the views of the public will also be taken into account.
He noted that an online public survey by DBKL since February 11 on its proposal to close a stretch of Jalan TAR has managed to chalk up over 3,000 respondents in just a few days, with 65 per cent agreeing to the idea.
“For me, it’s more on working together, whether you agree or disagree, we work together.
“The more important thing is for Kuala Lumpur, whether as mayor or as a man on the street, we are people of Kuala Lumpur, we do what’s the best for Kuala Lumpur for the majority, not the minority,” he said.
He said DBKL had carried out road simulations of nearby roads such as Jalan Pahang, Lorong Gombak, Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman, and had also considered other major cities with roads closed off such as Melaka’s Jonker Street.
“It’s not only Jalan TAR, we also have a few options that we will do. Whatever it is, engagement will continue from time to time so that the majority of the people agree,” he said.
When asked by how much the Jalan TAR’s closure to private vehicles would reduce traffic congestion, he indicated it is not expected to be much as the existing roads would not be able to match the pace of development.
“We see the road simulation, we see it’s not that much because Kuala Lumpur’s planning is since 1997...the roads are from 1997 until now and possibly it will be like that in the future, while development in Kuala Lumpur is so fast,” he said.
Proposal and survey
DBKL’s proposes to shut off Jalan TAR starting from Jalan Esfahan in front of the Sogo shopping mall until Jalan Melayu at Wisma Bandar.
The road is well-known as a shopping destination and is dotted with fabric shops, among other things.
Malay Mail’s check of DBKL’s 10-question survey showed questions such as whether respondents agree with the closure of the stretch, or whether they agree with Jalan TAR being open only to pedestrians or only for buses.
The survey also asks if respondents agree with Jalan TAR being closed off for a Ramadan Bazaar during the Muslims’ fasting month, whether they agree that unloading would be done along nearby Lorong Gombak and Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
The survey also asked if respondents agree with certain nearby parking spots for private vehicles, as well as if they agree with traffic diversion plans from Jalan TAR to Jalan Tun Perak via Jalan Dang Wangi, Jalan Kuching, and Bulatan Dato’ Onn.
The survey requires respondents to indicate if they work and stay in Kuala Lumpur.
On February 13, Khalid said the one-kilometre stretch from Jalan Esfahan to Jalan Melayu along Jalan TAR would be closed to all vehicles except for buses starting from March 15, which he said would mean that the public and shoppers would not have to deal with constant traffic there while going about their business.
Khalid noted that a majority of those who responded to DBKL’s online survey had agreed to the proposed road closure .
Yesterday, the Masjid India Business Association and the Batu Road Retailers Association signed an eight-point memorandum against the road’s closure to private vehicles.
Among the reasons given was how it would affect business as shoppers along the affected road may not be able to continue their practice of buying items in bulk, also pointing out that shoppers are currently dropped off and picked up.
Closing the road would also affect hotels there as guests would feel the distance for drop off and pick up, while the plans to use Lorong Gombak for unloading and the traffic diversion plan would cause traffic congestion, the memorandum said.
The traders urged Khalid to reconsider the decision and seek consultation, and to not go ahead with the proposal unless agreed on by the stakeholders, also saying that they were so upset that they were mulling to close their shops there as a sign of protest.