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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

> Singapore-style development for Sungai Kinta

The Perak Government is set to make Sungai Kinta an engine of growth for commercial and tourism activities to enhance  economic growth in Ipoh, in the style of the Singapore river project successfully undertaken by the Singapore Government.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the benefits from the planned RM200 million Kinta Riverfront development project will be three pronged as it will:-

> make the currently polluted Sungai Kinta environmental friendly and healthy for people to set up commercial ventures along the river banks.

> encourage locals to venture into various ventures and other activities which will enhance economic growth and the night life with people participation

>  increase the value of properties near the river banks
 Nizar said the first phase of turning Sungai Kinta into a booming tourist attraction will involve a 1.2km stretch of the river, from Jalan Raja Musa Aziz to Jalan Sultan Iskandar.

The RM200 million Kinta Riverfront development  being undertaken by the Morubina Group of Companies to transform the city into a vibrant tourist attraction covers 16ha on the banks of the river is the expected to take two years.

Tourist attractions will include six pedestrian bridges across the Sungai Kinta, a 313-room five-star hotel and serviced suites, a boardwalk of boulevard style cafes and shops, a flea market and an open-air auditorium for concerts and cultural shows. 

Deepening of the Kinta river bed which are being undertaken to ease flooding problems in the city will also facilitate river cruises and river taxis as being done in Singapore, he said.

Thus, Sungai Kinta which played a major role in the development of Ipoh town during the tin mining era in the yesteryears is once again set to enhance the city’s economic activities with the creation of more business and tourism activities for locals.

“The Singapore government with the close cooperation and participation of its citizens  took 10 years to clean up their polluted rivers for tourism related economic activities," said Nizar following a three-day study tour by the Perak Government to Singapore recently.

"The close cooperation and participation of the people and government in Singapore in maintaining their eco-friendly rivers resulted in an economic boom for the republic.” he said.

"We have to clean up our polluted river in stages with the financial assistance of the federal government.” said Nizar who called on Perakeans to involve themselves in efforts to make Sungai Kinta pollution free so that economic and tourism activities will be a success.

The banks of Sungai Kinta were once top picnicking and recreational spots with  families driving to several hotspots along the 100km river before it joins Sungai Perak for recreational activities such as swimming and fishing.

In those days, Sungai Kinta was clear and clean and enjoyed a Class II category classification, meaning its water was fit for human consumption, bathing and for the flourishing fauna and flora.

However over the years, human and industrial pollutants caused the water quality to deteriorate and the river has since been reclassified in the Class IV category which is only fit for the purpose of irrigation.

An Perak Drainage and Irrigation Department official was quoted as saying that to rehabilitate the entire length of the river will require about RM30 million in funds.

The rehabilitation of Sungai Kinta to develop the river’s eco-system so that fishing activities can be resuscitated and to encourage recreational activities like boating is being carried out under the federal agency’s “One State, One River” programme.”       

Meanwhile, on promoting state tourism among Singaporeans, Nizar said Singaporeans are stressed out with their concrete jungle city life and like to rejuvenate by visiting the various natural tourist spots like the Royal Belum State Park in Grik.

However, he said there is a need to further publicise the tourist spots with better road signs to guide tourists to such destinations, said Nizar, adding that Singapore High Commissioner T. Jasudasen, for one, had difficulty in locating the Royal Belum State Park during his recent visit to Perak - theSun.