KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Today, Feb 1, Kuala Lumpur will be celebrating its 41st anniversary as a Federal Territory.
Kuala Lumpur started off as a hamlet at the confluence of the Sungai Gombak and Sungai Klang in the 1850s with the tin mining activities putting the place in the map as the focal point of trade and commercial activities.
It is the oldest of the three Federal Territories in Malaysia, the other two being Labuan and Putrajaya.
Ever since the country achieved independence in 1957, Kuala Lumpur that is practically known as KL has witnessed tremendous progress and today stands at par with many major cities of the world.
The skyscrapers, the mass rapid transport, the expressways criss-crossing the city and a host of other first world infrastructure put KL ahead of many cities even in the developed world.
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is the city’s guardian with its role going beyond planning the future and maintaining the city infrastructure and public services.
With Malaysia set to emerge as a developed nation by 2020, KL too is set to become a world class city.
Thus DBKL shoulders heavy responsibility in keeping up with nation’s goals and the people’s aspirations. In discussing the city’s future direction, Kuala Lumpur’s Datuk Bandar Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib is optimistic that KL will one day emerge as a world class city.
Bernama met up with Ahmad Fesal recently in conjunction with the Federal Territory Day celebration.
As for Ahmad Phesal, a world class city will not only boasts for a first world infrastructure but also be a people oriented city.
In evoking the sense of belonging, the people’s well-being too has to be considered.
And speaking of the people’s well-being, it calls for a sustainable and holistic development of the city.
Apart from that, DBKL also has to ensure the city remains the centre for economic, education, cultural, tourism and health activities in the region.
These activities will bring various benefits for the city dwellers.
Ahmad Phesal admits there are many nagging problems that have to be addressed, including flash floods and falling trees during heavy rain.
“We have to understand there are areas where the drainage capacity is overwhelmed or the drainage system is clogged. All these are in the process of being addressed.
“We have sent in our contractors to carry out video inspection of the underground culvert right up to Sungai Klang and remove all debris as we find them,” he said.
Speaking of falling trees, DBKL is caught between greening the city and the danger of the trees falling on the road, vehicles and even buildings.
Ahmad Phesal says the Landscape Department has been ordered to enhance tree inspections and the services of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia has been sought to identify trees that are safe to plant.
“Though these trees are valuable, they may pose a danger to the public thus that is why at times we have to cut them down despite of the public admonition. There is no give and take when comes to safety,” he said.
Safety also involves patching up potholes, lighting up streets and improving the manhole covers.
This is because the manhole has been identified as among the contributors to road accidents in the city. Roadwork including road resurfacing is being improved through the cooperation of Malaysian Public Works Institute and the appointment of companies to supervise roadwork.
The guidelines on road resurfacing and road digging in the city are being streamlined.
In ensuring the well-being of city dwellers, DBKL is well aware of the need to provide adequate housing.
In this respect we give priority for housing projects on government land to make available affordable homes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Phesal noted that the Federal Territories Day celebration this time around will be scaled down in line with measures taken by the government to save on spending
This year’s celebration theme is ‘Wilayahku Ceria’ (My Happy Place).