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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Putrajaya needs better transport system to boost its population

Putrajaya’s population now stands at about 75,000.

PUTRAJAYA has been declared the epitome of gracious living by many, but Malaysia’s administrative capital still has some way to go before it can truly be declared a model city.

Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) president James Wong believes that Putrajaya needs a meaningful transport system to make it more “liveable”. This, in turn, will attract the crowds to make it more vibrant, he adds.

“You need a critical mass population to have a meaningful transport system,” he says when contacted by StarBizWeek. “Currently, there’s not large enough a population catchment in Putrajaya.”

According to the website of Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd, the administrative capital’s master developer, Putrajaya’s current population (working and living) is about 75,000.

Wong feels that setting up attractions, such as museums and art galleries, was a great way to pull in the crowds. He also notes that it has long been planned for many of the foreign embassies to relocate to Putrajaya but this has yet to happen.

“There was supposed to be a diplomatic enclave in Putrajaya, with the embassies moving there. With the Immigration Department and many Government agencies already present there, it would be a good move for the embassies to relocate,” says Wong.

Putrajaya currently has just one shopping mall – the Alamanda Putrajaya in Precinct 1. Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management advisor Richard Chan points out that the population there is not big enough to support a second one.

“To have a successful shopping mall, you need to have a population with good spending power. Right now, I wouldn’t recommend building a second mall in Putrajaya,” he says.

Chan adds that having homes that are affordable is a good way to boost the population in Putrajaya.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe says the homes in Putrajaya starts from about RM450,000 onwards.

“Putrajaya is a great place to live. The homes are affordable but there is insufficient infrastructure or commercial activity,” he says.

He adds that for a city to be successful, it needs to “relate to its people.” “Cities like Kuala Lumpur have holidays like Federal Territory Day to cater to its people. Putrajaya needs to have events like that,” he argues.

Putrajaya is about 25km from Kuala Lumpur. To CB Richard Ellis Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Allan Soo, that is an issue for now.

“It’s well planned and well developed, but the distance is the problem. I think once people are able to accept it, living there is not a problem.”

Soo says there should be more dedicated highways that connect directly to Putrajaya. Currently, the Maju Expressway links Putrajaya directly to the Kampung Pandan interchange.

“It’s not that we don’t have enough highways, but why not have other dedicated highways that lead to Bangsar or Petaling Jaya?”

Soo also says there should be more private sector participation in the development of Putrajaya.

“There needs to be more private developers rather than GLCs (government-linked companies). Right now, Putrajaya feels like it’s GLC-driven,” he adds.

“I think a couple of reputable developers coming in and creating some nice gated projects would make Putrajaya very attractive.”

Wong agrees that there should be more private companies undertaking development projects Putrajaya. He says: “Putrajaya Holdings needs to open up more land and invite private developers to come in.”

Earlier this week, it was reported that Putrajaya Holdings would be calling for tenders for projects worth over RM1bil.

Chief executive officer Datuk Azlan Abdul Karim said the tenders were to build four office towers worth a combined RM700mil, residential properties and office blocks.

In the report, companies such as Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Sunway Holdings Bhd, the UEM Group and Ireka Corp Bhd were linked to the bids. When contacted, Sunway Holdings and Ireka declined to comment on the matter.

By The Star

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