KUCHING: Building works for an eco-friendly roof over India Street Pedestrian Mall here is behind schedule by about two months.
When the project was announced a year ago, it was supposed to be completed around this time, which is just before Hari Raya, a sales peak for the historical open air mall.
The new completion date for the RM4mil project is September, management committee chairman Datuk Wee Hong Seng said.
The delay is partly due to the swapping of construction works between the roof and a centralised sewerage system, which were separate projects, with the start of former clashing with the completion of the latter.
Originally, the overhead infrastructure was to go ahead first followed by underground works, but a switch was deemed less disruptive and more logical in building progression.
Wee also said roof delay was caused by legacy piping complications at the area, which is over 160 years old.
“There were issues with the soil structure and then there were wiring and piping problems once they got down 20 over feet (6m),” Wee told reporters on Saturday when the first column of the roof, which will weigh two tonnes, was being installed.
The columns, he said, were supposed to be installed last week but consultants called for a longer time for the cement foundation to set in.
“Even though in the schedule it was supposed to be last week, we listened to the consultants. No point to rush and later having safety concerns.”
Wee, who is a commissioner at Kuching North City Hall, said mayor Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai last week held talks with India Street property owners and business operators, explaining the complexities and delay.
Given the important trading season, city officials have given permission for the Ramadan bazaar to be held along five-foot walkways of the 120m long street, which comprises 65 shops.
On a brighter note, Telekom Malaysia has agreed to set up six WiFi hotspots after the roof was completed with speeds up to 4Mbps.
“This could be a first for a pedestrian mall in Malaysia,” Wee enthused.
Also, he said the management committee has appointed a company to promote and operate its planned night markets and weekend bazaars.
“We are thinking that we could start a weekend food bazaar in August along Khai Joo Lane.”
“We want to make this street more vibrant over extended hours to capitalise on Plaza Merdeka Shopping Mall’s operating hours and the Waterfront Hotel that should be opening by September or October.
There are also going to be new things at the Old Court House complex by Sarawak Tourism Board.”
Another idea being discussed is for students to paint murals along the street, he said.
The roof over India Street is modelled after the success of Singapore’s Bugis Street. Computer renders show a series of tree trunk-like columns rising from the ground level, supporting panels above of different shades of green and yellow that resemble branches and leaves.
The roof panels are about three meters above the top of the shoplots, which are of different heights, adding to the design theme of the roof as rainforest canopy.