KUCHING: To prevent Sarawak’s towns and cities from sprawling further, the state Government will allow housing density to increase.
Without going into specifics, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said there was a “need” to review current rules, with a view towards “greater density” as land gets more scarce and expensive.
“One of the ways to meet the population’s housing needs is to build cities vertically: more high-rises and mixed developments,” he said, in a speech read out by Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg at the Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) awards.
“Through a combination of urban development models, we would be able to tackle the issue of urban sprawls in our cities,” he said, adding densification need not mean crowded living spaces and traffic congestion.
On the contrary, higher density could result in a more efficient public transportation system with lower operational costs.
“This leads me to the issue of public transportation, which is an integral part of urban planning.
“Transit-oriented development needs to be adopted as Kuching city is in serious need of an efficient and integrated public transport system,” Adenan said.
On a related matter, the CM appealed to the Federal Government to better fund public transport.
Referring to the recent Budget 2016, Adenan noted RM1bil would be spent in Kota Kinabalu next year on a bus rapid transit system, but not in Kuching.
Johari elaborated that it was not enough for the Federal Government to just fund the Pan Borneo Highway.
“After the highway, we would also like to build a better public transport infrastructure.
“Hopefully, after this (state) election, we will get the funds,” the Housing Minister said.
The state was also “vigorously” pursuing its request to have housing autonomy, he added.
“In view of the ongoing devolution of power exercise with the Federal Government, the housing provision, being a concurrent list in the Federal Constitution, should be directly handled by the Sarawak Government.
“We want to avoid unnecessary duplication.”