TRADERS and the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) have banded together in a mission to revitalise Klang’s Little India, an Indian business enclave.
MPK president Datuk Mohamad Yasid Bidin said Klang had experienced an increase in population and retail outlets.
“As such, the local communities and traders in the royal town want to see better traffic management, a public square for the people to hang out and relax, and more opportunity to bring in tourism dollars.
“The traders have a strong desire to see Little India rejuvenated as it has a lot of tourism potential, especially with the many heritage and pre-war buildings within walking distance from here. These have become a tourist magnet.
“Our aim is to create tourism-linked job opportunities, an optimal mix of retail businesses, shopping options and a public square for cultural activities and sports.
“Klang’s Little India has taken a dip in tourism numbers.
“Tourism is the main economic development driver and Little India has the potential to attract tourism dollars.
“We need to rejuvenate this part of the town through various initiatives as we have the support of the people,” he added.
Klang’s Little India is a colourful business enclave the size of 116 football fields and is a shopping haven for all things Indian.
Mohamad Yasid said the council had tabled a detailed proposal to Tourism and Culture Ministry for the rejuvenation of Little India in south Klang, requesting for RM6.3mil under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
“We plan to upgrade the area that covers the Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk route, realign the movement of traffic entering the main thoroughfare of Jalan Tengku Kelana from Musaedin Bridge and the Simpang Lima roundabout, and build the People’s Square at Padang Chetty,” he said.
He revealed that the development of the square, located next to the Sri Nagara Thendayuthapani temple, was estimated at RM2.8mil, while an 11km-long bicycle lane looping around south Klang was estimated to cost RM2mil.
“The People’s Square, retail shops, restaurants and heritage buildings can provide significant economic transformation. All these plans will create more job opportunities for locals in tourism.
“Our proposal looks towards the next 25 years and is aimed at creating more entrepreneurs,” he added.
It is learnt that the balance of RM1.5mil will be spent on building a Heritage Walk pathway with signage and the rerouting of traffic in Jalan Tengku Kelana.
Council secretary Adi Faizal Ahmad Tarmizi said the proposal made to the Tourism and Culture Ministry was part of MPK’s blueprint for the future growth of south Klang.
“We want to fully leverage on and benefit from the tourism platform.
“For the month of January, 32,339 tourists disembarked from cruise ships in Port Klang but only 1,294 people visited Little India and Aeon in Bandar Bukit Tinggi while the others took the coach buses to Subang Jaya, Bandar Sunway, Bukit Bintang and Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Adi Faizal said the Little India project was important to attract tourists by creating a cultural connection between the town and the shopping experience as well as good food.
“We must get the visitors to recognise Little India as an interesting destination, ultimately encouraging more tourists to extend their experience and dollars to the streets of south Klang,” he said.
MPK Corporate and Community Department (business and tourism) director Zaireezal Ahmad Zainuddin said it would cost about RM880,000 to paint the 120 pre-war shoplots in Little India.
“The cost will be split; the council will pay half of the sum and we will ask the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Klang Chapter) and the Entrepreneurs Association of Little India Klang District to raise the other half to support the beautification of the buildings,” he said.
He said the back lanes of Little India would also be brightened up with lights and murals.
“We want the back lanes to be safe,” he added.
He added that MPK hoped to get the Federal Government funding that would be spread out over 2017 and 2018.