Ipoh’s City Council planted 52 trees at the garden of the Railway Station recently. Fifty of the trees are the Spring Black Olive (Bucida Molineti) while two are the Rosy Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea) which blossoms during the hot weather.
Led by Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim and assisted by 30 teachers and students from SMK Anglo Chinese School Ipoh, who earlier in August had etched their name in the Malaysia Book of Records when they created the largest flower formation using 31,000 plants in their Florathon project themed ‘Lets Green the Earth’. Dr D. Karthiresan, ACS’s Project Coordinator for the Florathon joined in with the students to plant trees that morning.
According to Roshidi the council initiated tree planting after receiving feedback from residents saying the area was bare. The feedback requested that trees be planted to provide shade for daytime visitors. Currently the sole large tree here is the Ipoh Tree in the centre of the garden.
The Railway Garden, located within the core of the Ipoh Old Town Heritage Trail, was recently upgraded and landscaped at a cost of RM2.3 million. It has a rhythmic water fountain and has been drawing crowds day and night since it started operations in August this year.
The location where the trees were planted took into consideration that in future the trees would not block the view of the Heritage buildings and architectural design of the surrounding environment.
Roshidi stated that the total cost of the tree planting exercise was RM50K and the proposal was mooted a month ago.
Ipoh Railway Station was deserted for quite some time until the shuttle train service was started between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur about three years ago. When the Electric Train Service with a travelling time of about two hours between the two cities was introduced more than a year ago, it has become the most popular mode of transport. Though the fare is higher than that of the express buses, people prefer to travel by train because it is much safer and comfortable.
Each train has a capacity for more than 300 passengers and there are six services daily in each direction. On the average some 2,000 passengers pass through the station daily on weekdays and the number is higher on weekends. However, there has been no increase in the availability of parking spaces in front of the station. Customers going to the Main Post Office also use this parking area. The parking bays in front of the station are reserved for KTMB staff.
The pickup area is congested. Most of the time there is double parking and at peak times triple parking to pick up the passengers. The pickup area is not properly demarcated. Taxis are parked in front of the area without drivers, causing traffic jams. At any time, cars are parked haphazardly all over the place, making it inconvenient for all drivers.
Shafruddin Nasution, Chairman, Rukun Tettanga, Lim Garden said that he goes to the station frequently to pick up his daughter. He has no choice, but to park illegally. Another regular traveller, K. Sagadevan, Secretary, Malaysian Indian Business Association said that it is convenient for him to travel by train to KL for his business trips, but is frustrated by the congestion. Jessie Tan, an Accounts Manager goes to the station to drop and pick up relatives and said that she always encounters parking problems and has to wait for a long time to get a parking space. She added that taxis are only available when trains arrive; at other times there are no taxis.
The road in front of the station is one-way traffic and after dropping off a passenger, if a person has to return to take care of senior citizens boarding the train, then he must drive all the way to the front of SMI School along Jalan S.P. Seenivasagam and make a U-turn. It would be convenient if a mini roundabout is built at the junction of Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab so that motorists can return to the station easily or alternatively an additional lane can be built along this road whereby drivers coming out of the station can turn right and return to the station.
The rear entrance to the station from Regat Tun Perak (Jelf Road) is not being utilised. There is a subway leading to the front of the station. The entrance to the subway is a simple structure with no signboard. People are unfamiliar with this and good signage would be helpful.
There is ample parking space around. Regat Tun Razak is a bypass road and few vehicles use it. Even at Platform1 in the station there is no signboard pointing to the subway. It is essential that KTMB publicise this entrance. Residents staying on the other side of the railway line can use this entrance and avoid the traffic jam. People are wary of using subways and security guards and cameras must be placed at both entrances and it must be well lit.
The minimum taxi fare from the station is RM10. A shuttle bus service should be introduced between Medan Kidd and the station. Also buses travelling along Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab should pass through the station. If there are frequent bus services people would use it and the parking problem would be eased.
The only people who are happy with the situation are the MBI parking attendants who are very prompt in their issuance of summons for vehicles illegally parked.
We have a state-of-art train service, but the infrastructure is lacking. I urge the Mayor to turun padang and see for himself the situation and come up with a permanent solution. To get a true picture he must visit the place without forewarning.
When I went to pick up my friend from the Railway Station, two taxis, without the drivers, were parked in the pickup area for passengers. A long row of cars were queuing behind the taxis waiting for their turn, not knowing that the two taxis were parked permanently. This caused additional congestion.
There is no dedicated parking area for taxis in the railway station. Taxis are parked all over the place. MBI must reserve four parking bays in front of the pickup area for taxis. A signboard must also be placed indicating the fare to various destinations from the station as is being done at Medan Gopeng bus terminal. The taxis are charging a minimum of RM10 for a journey.
The city council has identified 140 buildings throughout Ipoh to be preserved as heritage buildings and has indicated them in the Ipoh 2020 Draft Plan. Of these, 120 of the buildings have been listed in the National Heritage Act 2005 to be gazetted for preservation.
This was disclosed at the council’s full board meeting on June 3. Among the buildings are the theatre, railway station and post-office in Chemor, police station in Lahat and St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Ipoh.
Regarding old buildings where owners have requested to rebuild, the city council will approve. However, the rebuilt building must bear a neo-classical appearance to align the image and identity with the neighbouring buildings adjoining it.
On tourism, the city council has proposed three Heritage Trails for the Old Town Sector. They are the 2.5-km Tin Trail, 4-km Old Town Train and 14-km Tin City Tour.
The proposal was indicated in the Ipoh 2020 Local Draft Plan and has been forwarded to the
State Planning Committee for approval and implementation.
At a press conference after the meeting Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim announced that the city council has purchased a bus which will be emblazoned with the words “Visit Perak Year 2012”. The bus is to be used for the council’s road-show to create awareness of the year-long event next year.
Roshidi also announced that two new hotels, MH Tower and Ipoh Riverfront Hotel, would be opened before the end of the year ahead of ‘Visit Perak Year 2012’. “Overall Ipoh City Council is ready for next year.”
A new councillor, Chan Soon Yip was appointed for Zone 1 (Kanthan/ Chemor/ Klebang). Chan takes over from Cheng Wee Meng who resigned from his post in April. Chan, 27, is a graduate in Economic Management from USM Penang, and is a member of MCA Tanah Hitam branch.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about promoting Ipoh – the City That Tin Built, as a tourists’ destination, all of which was looking at a bigger picture of some ambitious plan or project. What these plans failed to do was to take note of some of the seemingly minor details that needed to be urgently fixed first.
For instance the iconic Ipoh railway station, which will certainly become an important entry point for tourists with the introduction of the fast inter-city electric passenger trains.
Although the railway station has been renovated as part of the Ipoh-Kuala Lumpur dual-tracking project, its surroundings are yet to be spruced up. The Moorish architecture, albeit impressive, appears desolate and lacks public transportation, unlike most entry points for tourists.
Mini Garden of Taj Mahal
The Ipoh Map and Guide produced by the city council some years ago described the railway station as an impressive structure “fronted by a beautiful floral garden which serves as a charming welcome for tourists”. This garden which is right in the middle of the “Heritage Walk” being promoted in the city and also the location of Pokok Ipoh (antiaris toxicaria) from which the city got its name, was fondly referred to as ‘a mini garden of Taj Mahal’. Today I wonder if it still serves as a ‘charming welcome’ for tourists as the area reeks of neglect.
The beautiful fountain has stopped gushing and gurgling for some time and is collecting rubbish. Who knows, even Aedes mosquitoes may be breeding should there be stagnant water inside the empty fountain.
The Medan Stesen and its fountain need constant attention. We cannot adopt a “tidak apa” attitude as maintenance and minor repairs must be constantly carried out if we are serious about attracting tourists, whether local or foreign.
Even the fountain at the edge of Ipoh Padang appears to be in need of a good scrub, while those on the round-about in front of the Menteri Besar’s residence and Jalan C.M. Yusuf also need some attention, although water is spouting from the fountains.
The city council appears to be unable to sustain its maintenance works. A project in the city is attractive as long as it is new. Like the fountains, there are many other minor repairs, which if not attended to quickly, will only cost the city council more later as well as become “eyesores” through poor maintenance.
Flying Squad With Special Fund
All attention seems to be concentrated only along Jalan Gopeng, where Istana Kinta is located. The city council’s parks and gardens section has failed to continuously beautify the city with landscaping, planting and pruning of shrubs and flowers on roundabouts and road-dividers. Certainly a study tour to Melaka can be useful to the staff?
I am sure city council is not hit by manpower shortage. Is it just waiting to tender these minor repairs to contractors later? Why not set up a special fund for repairs to public property and infrastructure without delay? It may be necessary to form a flying squad with a special fund to carry out such repairs and maintenance work quickly.
Taxpayers’ money is often wasted just because minor repairs are not carried out regularly, allowing the situation to deteriorate until an allocation is needed for a contractor to do the job.
There is no doubt the city council is gradually carrying out improvements to the city’s infrastructures, but if timely minor repairs are carried out, then pavements do not necessarily need to be replaced just because there are some broken tiles. This is at the expense of developing other areas.
Remember, the first impression is very important. A city needs to show it is well managed, clean and beautiful.
Mayor Roshidi visited the Ipoh railway station recently and was taken on board Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) newly acquired electric train from South Korea. A unit was in the station as part of KTMB’s exposition. Accompanying the mayor was Ahmad Shamsuddin Md Rashid, KTMB Northern Regional Manager.
Roshidi was briefed on the operations of the electric train service (ETS) between Ipoh-KL-Seremban which is scheduled to start in April. Travelling time from Ipoh to KL will be significantly reduced by almost 40 per cent to one hour 55 minutes. The introduction of ETS will encourage visitors, keen on savouring the beautiful sights in Kinta Valley, to come to Ipoh. “KTMB will complement MBI in promoting Perak to in-bound tourists and in the process help improve the local economy”, said Roshidi. The double tracking project between Rawang and Ipoh was completed on December 31, 2007. Works on the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch, estimated at RM12.5 billion, are on-going and are expected to be completed by 2013, as planned.