KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is confident the public will soon warm to the concept of a private vehicle-free Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Jalan TAR) on weekends that begins today.
According to DBKL executive director (project management) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd, the plan under the River of Life (RoL) project was to make the road similar to London’s popular Oxford Street, while keeping private vehicles to peripheral roads.
“Jalan TAR is a bypass from Sultan Ismail to Jalan Raja, and Kuala Lumpur is a compact city. Soon they will see it our way,” he was quoted saying to local daily New Straits Times (NST).
Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad previously said there would be a one-month trial period from April 1, where a one-kilometre stretch along Jalan TAR would be closed on weekends and public holidays to private vehicles, with only buses, taxis, fire engines, ambulances, police and enforcement vehicles to be allowed through it.
In the NST report today, Najib explained that the Jalan TAR closure was preceded by DBKL’s closure of Jalan Hang Kasturi and Jalan Medan Pasar years ago to become pedestrian-friendly streets.
Najib pointed out that the past road closures to vehicles were accepted by the public who used LRT stations in the area, noting that businesses also benefited from the move.
“The more people walk, the more they will see things and engage traders. If you let cars come in, this will be lost.
“So we are bringing it back to 100 years ago, before vehicles came to Kuala Lumpur,” he said, noting that the public can enjoy a safer shopping experience and are expected to flock to that area as Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri draws near.
He also said DBKL has commissioned architect Kenzo Tange to create a plan for the main artery of Jalan TAR, which the city authority saw as a vital shopping area.
Najib indicated there might be a push to make roads in Bukit Bintang, Brickfields and Petaling Street pedestrianised too if the Jalan TAR closure proves successful.
NST reported that DBKL could make Jalan TAR’s closure “permanent” or “semi-permanent” in the future, although it was unclear if it would still only be on weekends or daily.
But this is also subject to Khalid, who will be given weekly reports by DBKL of public sentiments on the Jalan TAR weekend closures, and studies on the matter.
DBKL senior deputy director (civil engineering and urban transport) Sabudin Mohd Salleh said it was preferable to go ahead with the road closure to cut down on traffic congestion, noting that three million cars are on Kuala Lumpur roads every day.
“People will get used to things. If we entertain each one of them, our consultation sessions will be like those in Western countries and it will take eight years to implement small projects,” he was quoted saying.