Tuesday, November 12

Abang Jo: We are going the wrong way!

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INTERACTION: Abang Johari (second right) and Abdul Wahab (right) greeting participants after opening Focus Result Delivery (FRD) Lab for Kuching Urban Public Transport session.

KUCHING: Building flyovers and widening roads would not solve traffic congestion problems. These approaches would, in fact, exacerbate the problem by inducing more traffic.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said these outdated approaches need to be re-examined.

“The issue here is to manage the demand for travel by making use of existing infrastructure. We term this as a new realism in transport policy,” said Abang Johari at the opening of ‘Focus Result Delivery (FRD) Lab for Kuching Urban Public Transport’ here yesterday,

Abang Johari explained that having greater accessibility to the city would encourage more people to drive their own transport rather than using public transport as an alternative.

“There is an uncontrollable increase in car usage due to the lack of alternative transport in urban Kuching, leading to saturated and congested urban roads,” he said.

Citing examples from the United States, Abang Johari said a few cities there had resorted to dismantling flyovers and replaced them with more public buses and trains.

“What we are looking at are solutions that can be considered. For example, a terminal with parking lots at each housing estate where there would be public transport to bring the people to the city centre.”

He revealed that his ministry was continuously seeking ways to make traffic flow smoother while having greater accessibility to the city via affordable urban public transport.

“We have to find ways to ensure reliability and quick journey time, enhancing comfort and convenience while at the same time ensuring safety to the public.”

On the 5-day lab session, Abang Johari said he hoped the participants would look into issues such as integrating public transport, planning the system, regulatory instruments, body to implement, monitor and regulate and also how to make the system sustainable.

Met by reporters after the opening, Abang Johari revealed that he had requested RM200 million from the federal government to handle the issue.

“In Klang valley, around RM7 billion was allocated to solve the problems and as we are still at the initial stage I had requested for RM200 million which will include discussion sessions on potential and feasible solutions.”

Fifty five participants from both the private and public sectors are attending the lab session. These include officers from Rapid Kuching, Sarawak Transport, Public Works Department and the local councils.

Also present yesterday were Assistant Minister of Housing and Urban Development Abdul Wahab Aziz and the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Affandi Keli.