One of the popular tourists attractions in Ipoh happens to be the Ipoh KTM station which serves as the main railway terminal for the state of Perak. This building which features a mix of Anglo and Asian architectural design was built by a British engineer, Arthur Benison Hubback and was opened to the public in 1935 (per Wikipedia). Apparently this uniquely designed building was originally meant to serve as a hospital before it was turned into a railway station and a hotel. Popularly known as the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’ the building is now a tourist icon in Perak.
The introduction of the fast and comfortable ETS and Intercity rail services by KTM has helped to further boost the image and popularity of the Ipoh railway station among foreign and local tourists. It is now common to see foreign tourists busy clicking away on their cameras to capture the beautiful sight of the building and the other nearby colonial buildings such as the Ipoh High Court and the majestic Town Hall.
Being a regular ETS train traveller, I cannot help wondering why is KTM not utilising the Ipoh railway station building efficiently. The space once occupied by an hotel (Majestic Hotel) in this building is left to rot by the forces of nature. The barricaded unused areas in this building is turning out to be an eyesore for travellers and visitors to Ipoh.
It is indeed sad to note that KTM, the owner of this building, has not been able to harness the economic potential of this building. Daily, hundreds of travellers use this station. The image of Ipoh will be tarnished if the authorities continue to ignore the upkeeping and utilisation of the space in this unique building.
The unoccupied areas in the building can be utilised for so many useful economic purposes. The state authorities should step in if KTM is lacking of ideas to put to good use the empty spaces in the building. I am sure business enterprises will be just too keen to invest if the offer is right. There are so many things one can think of to utilise the unoccupied areas in the building to generate income. If KTM has no other development plans, the state authorities should step in to make good use of the building. The state authorities should explore the idea of converting the unoccupied space into a museum or an art centre, etc. Ipoh railway station has now turned out to be a busy public transport hub in Ipoh. It’s a sheer waste of economic space and public funds if this building is not put to good use.
Meanwhile, the landscaping work in front of this building (‘Dataran’) is pathetic. The trees and plants here appear to be stunted and ‘sickly’. During weekends in the evenings the open place is turned into a pasar malam. Towards the end of the day rubbish is thrown all over the ‘Dataran’ and if this is not cleared by MBI workers, the place looks like a dump site in the morning. Things are made worse when rowdy youths move around menacingly with their motorbikes and skateboards. The authorities should look into ways and means to ensure that this ‘Dataran’ in front of the Ipoh railway station is safe and not misused by irresponsible members of the public. It appears that landscaping in Ipoh is generally not up to the mark compared to other states. The authorities in Ipoh should look into appointing or consulting professional landscaping companies to turn Ipoh into a truly green city.