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Saturday March 20, 2010

Selangor to clean up Klang River

angie@thestar.com.my

SHAH ALAM: The Klang River rehabilitation project, an initiative under Selangor’s economic stimulus package, offers many opportunities including new commercial, tourism and property development ventures.

According to project masterplanner DPZ Asia Sdn Bhd principal Kamal Zaharin, there are various components in the project – river cleaning, new source of drinking water, environmental protection, flood mitigation, commercial, tourism and land development activities.

The state government has gazetted the riverbank and no development can take place without its permission.

“The draft master plan for the project is scheduled to be ready before the end of the month,” Kamal said.

One of the companies appointed to undertake the project is Wessex Water I-Bhd Consortium, a 50:50 joint venture between Wessex Water, a UK-based water and sewerage treatment company owned by YTL Corp Bhd, and I-Bhd.

Wessex Water managing director Gareth Jones said the state government’s plan to rehabilitate and clean up the Klang River was very visionary because “in any country, a river is the people’s lifeline.”

“The status of the Klang River now lies between critical and bad. There is a lot of trash that needs to be weeded out but the river can be saved and improved,” he said, adding that the company would start work next year.

Jones said various parts of the country were now suffering from water shortage and the cleaned water would come in handy.

“We are looking at tapping the water at the lower end of the middle stretch of the Klang River between Puchong and Shah Alam that is not affected by sea water. The physio-chemical treatment process will leave no chemical residue and the process of improving the water quality so it can be drunk is very economical and commercially viable,” he told StarBiz.

On its development potential, I-Bhd CEO Eu Hong Chew said: “We expect more new developments and redevelopment projects along the river bank going forward.”

Eu said the project would enhance the asset value of the riverfront land and open a new growth corridor for Selangor.

“The property fraternity should be excited about the prospects ahead as the river rehabilitation project will open new development options within established municipalities in Selangor,” he added.

For a start, I-Bhd’s i-City project which has some riverfront development (along Rasau River that flows into Klang River) can look forward to some value enhancement when the river water is cleaned.

The 72-acre project, with a gross development value of RM2bil, is already 20% completed. It will take a further five to eight years to complete.

Last Saturday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that four companies – Wessex Water I-Bhd Consortium, TSS-Mako Engineering Sdn Bhd, GJA Engineering and Construction and DPZ Asia Sdn Bhd – had been appointed to carry out the river rehabilitation project.

Apart from DPZ Asia, which was appointed by Khalid, the three were appointed from among 37 companies that had submitted their proposals last October after the project was advertised by the state government.

TSS-Mako combines local talents with three of South Korea’s biggest engineering firms while GJA Engineering is a 100% bumiputra-owned company.

Khalid said the entire project would take 15 years and was expected to attract some RM50bil worth of investments to clean, rehabilitate and develop the river.

Phase one comprising the building of a RM1bil water treatment plant and development along the riverbank, also estimated at RM1bil, will take two to three years.

The 120km river stretches from Klang to Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur and Ampang Jaya.

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