By A. Jeyaraj
A few months ago the daily papers, blogs and online media gave prominent coverage on the gotong royong carried out by Mayor Datuk Zamri Man at Ipoh Riverfront Recreational Park, the former People’s Park along Jalan Sultan Iskandar.
Zamri said that MBI planned to return the park back to its original role, that of a family park. It is the People’s Park and is for the entire Ipoh community. Zamri added “We need to find ways to draw the residents back to the area. The city council plans to carry out activities in the park to attract more visitors.”
One of the priorities for the park is to identify a suitable entrance. Currently visitors driving here have to enter by going around the back of shop houses. Zamri said “We want an entrance that welcomes visitors and we will place signboards to make passers-by aware of the park and guide them in.”
The paddling pool for children will be improved, including new lighting and signboards.
After all the publicity, I decided to visit the park to see what has been done. I made four visits on different days, in the mid-morning, evening and night. During the visits I did not see any genuine visitors. A few men were sitting and others were sleeping under the sheds. It looked like the men resting had nowhere else to go and were probably homeless. There were young couples sitting in secluded areas.
Construction of a new entrance from Jalan Sultan Iskandar to the park has been completed with two special bays next to the road.
On a Sunday morning the fountain was working, but during the following Sunday evening, it was not working. Just before submitting the article, I visited the park one late evening on a working day and the fountain was working. The place was deserted.
The paddling pool was the most attractive facility in the park. Families brought their children to play in the pools. There is a signboard saying swimming is not allowed. I cannot remember whether the signboard is new or was there all along, but children used to play in the pools previously.
There is clear stagnant water in the basin of the fountains which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are also other receptacles containing stagnant water. The place is relatively clean because there are few visitors. More dustbins are needed.
The broken roof of one of the shelters has not been repaired. It has been there for quite some time. Plants are growing on the opposite roof.
A number of plant receptacles have fallen off from their pedestals. A couple of them seem to have fallen recently. The bulb on the lamp post along the river bund is missing.
There are three entrances to the park through arches and the signages are missing. The name of the park was there earlier, but has been removed. There is still no new signboard along the main road for the park.
The buildings on the far side of the park are abandoned, but are in good condition. The restaurants along Jalan Bandar Timah (Leech Street) are crowded; why not move some stalls here to attract people. Ipoh is a food haven.
The place is dark at night with only two spot lights next to the main road and does not look safe. From the entrance I noticed a motorcycle was parked inside and two guys were sitting under a shelter. A couple of cars were parked along the main road and the drivers were playing with their phones. There must be more lighting.
The tree the Mayor had planted needs weeding. After the gotong-royong, I doubt whether the Mayor or the councillors with him had visited the place to see the progress.
It looks like what Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Deputy Prime Minister said during his keynote address at the Halal Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Industry forum is very apt. “Malaysians are good at initiating things, but do not follow through.”