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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Plugging the infrastructure gaps

Infrastructure projects have a way of uplifting people and heralding more vibrant changes to the way they live and their overall quality of life. There are also many benefits, both socially and economically, that can be reaped from having good infrastructure projects.

Projects with high multiplier effects on the country’s social and economic sectors should be identified and implemented.

Realising the many multiplier benefits that can be derived from infrastructure projects, governments around the world are paying greater attention to leverage on infrastructure projects to get their economies out of the rut of the global financial crisis.

From Australia to China and India, many new infrastructure projects, especially public transport system, highways, schools and other public facilities are being built to generate more economic activities for the people. This is certainly one of the few positive outcomes of the global turmoil.

Malaysia has done pretty well compared with some other countries in the region in terms of infrastructure development and today boasts of some world-class infrastructure projects such as the North South Expressway and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

But there are still many areas that need greater fund allocation and resources that have the potential to spawn more positive impact to a broad spectrum of economic and non-economic sectors.

Projects with high multiplier effects on the country’s social and economic sectors should be identified and implemented. To ensure their success, the key is speedy and efficient implementation.

In light of the worsening traffic congestion and poor public transport system that have been endured by folks in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley for the past many years, this will be the best opportunity for immediate action to be taken to overhaul the whole public transport system.

After all, the public transport system that includes the various modes of transport facilities and road networks are one of the most widely used public facilities among the people.

It looks like the single most effective initiative will be to set up a single authority to look into all the initiatives to streamline and integrate the whole public transport system.

Such an initiative will ensure all the avenues that are necessary to overhaul and improve the public transport system to be made the top priority and be given due and immediate attention.

After more than a decade of the introduction of Star LRT in 1996, the light rail transit (LRT) system is still not functioning to its optimum capability and many find the facility wanting with much room for improvement.

With the city’s two LRT systems and bus services now under state transport firm Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, it is necessary for more proactive measures to be taken towards meeting the government’s National Key Result Area target of raising public transport usage to 25% by 2012 from 16% currently,

Firstly, the two LRT systems under the STAR and Putra lines, along with the KL Monorail, commuter train and feeder and public bus services need to be integrated and should complement one another. This means facilities that will promote wider usage of public transport including providing sufficient car parking lots for those who are staying in areas without feeder bus services should be looked into.

The routes of the feeder buses and their regularity and reliability should be further improved.

While the latest initiative by the government to spend RM7bil to extend the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT lines over the next three years is lauded, the ancillary facilities to encourage its usage should be built in advance.

When our public transport system proves its efficacy and lives up to the people’s needs and expectations, working and living around the city and the peripheral areas will be much more enjoyable.

Certainly the quality of the environment (less pollution and noise) will move up many notches.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng feels that putting in place a highly efficient and widely used public transport system will be worth the while and is one of the better legacies a government can provide for its people.

By The Star

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