By Jerry Francis
It amuses me each time the Mayor or some VIPs propose certain tourism projects along the narrow Kinta River in Ipoh. Among them are a floating market, river cruise, boat race and other water-related activities. I wonder whether they have really given some serious consideration to the viability of their proposals.
Why do we have to emulate others who had successfully implemented such activities? Their rivers are wider and deeper. The 1.5km stretch of the Kinta River, from the bridge at Jalan Raja Musa Aziz (Anderson Road) to the Kinta Riverfront Park (formerly known as the People’s Park), is hardly 15m wide and 1m deep.
Although a rubber dam has been built by State Drainage and Irrigation Department, which could create the depth of water suitable for small boats, it would not be ideal for a floating market or river cruise.
Introducing such activities along this stretch of the riverbank is therefore bound to be a failure.
We have seen so much failures and therefore should not venture into another without thoroughly studying how our own floating market could woo tourists. And knowing the city council, even if such a floating market materialised, it would not last for long.
What are the unique items we could offer at our floating market? Just because Thailand has been successful in promoting their floating markets, it doesn’t mean that we can be too.
Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim, had after a visit to South Thailand recently, proposed the floating market. He foresaw that a floating market would be a new tourist attraction in the city.
If there is any chance of such water-related activities being successful, they should be introduced along the Perak River, preferably in the Royal town of Kuala Kangsar.
The Kuala Kangsar District has much to offer in terms of tourist attractions, products from cottage industries that are unique and also has abundant local fruits and other agricultural produce. These could be the catalyst for a sustainable floating market. What is there for Ipoh to offer?
However, instead of a floating market, the city council could consider having a Weekend Bazaar along the riverbanks by relocating the Sunday street market along Jalan Horley. Such a move would induce and inspire the creation of a viable tourism project in the city. One side of the riverbank is for traders and the other for eateries as the beautifully designed pedestrian bridges provide easy access to both sides.
And, if we are still keen on water-related activities, why not revive them in the artificial lake of Taman D.R. Seenivasagam. After all the lake is just beside the “River Walk”.
While efforts to beautify the riverbanks are commendable, the enthusiasm that started a few years ago seems to progress rather slowly. Some sections have been abandoned and neglected.
During the day, the site appears to be dull, but at night it is like a fairyland and is attracting the city folks. The coloured-lighted trees installed along both sides of the riverbanks would reflect on the river concealing the polluted water and rubbish floating by.
I had hoped that a more concrete effort would be carried out to beautify this stretch of the Sungai Kinta, which bisects the city into the Old Town and New Town sectors, not in an “ad hoc” manner.
It must be remembered that rivers have been the focal point of many cities around the world. Sungai Kinta can be one of them.