State keen to ease traffic woes

Fadillah (foreground, looking at project plans) being briefed on the Abang Kipali interchange project in Petra Jaya, Kuching.

KUCHING: The Government is looking at various alternatives to ease traffic congestion in Kuching, including possibly a mass rapid transit (MRT) system in the long term.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said MRT had been thought about by the Federal and state governments but there were no plans for it at the moment.

“We have to see whether it is feasible or not in terms of population size and cost of construction. If we do a detailed study, I think for the long term that will be the solution.

“It is being considered but is not in the planning yet because we have to look at all the options,” he told reporters after inspecting the interchange project at the Abang Kipali roundabout in Petra Jaya here.

Fadillah said one immediate alternative was the third bridge over the Sarawak River from E-Mart Matang to Stapok in Batu Kawa, which is currently under construction.

He said the bridge, when completed, would give another option to motorists travelling to and from Petra Jaya.

Another alternative was to study the traffic flow in Kuching and look for ways to reduce bottlenecks, Fadillah said.

“One way to do this is to convert intersections into one-way streets. But motorists may respond that this will make their journeys longer, so we will also have to take that into consideration,” he said.

He added that the Jalan Muhibbah-Jalan Green junction, the intersection below the Satok flyover and the traffic light intersection near the RTM headquarters were bottlenecks which slowed down traffic from Petra Jaya heading towards the city centre.

“This will cause a backflow of traffic, so even after the completion of the interchange project there may still be congestion,” he said.

Fadillah also said the Federal and state governments would look at how to improve public transport in the city to help reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.

“We are working closely with Rapid at Federal level to introduce the Rapid bus service in Kuching. This has been agreed in principle and we hope it can be implemented soon,” he said.

On the interchange project, Fadillah said a task force would be formed by the Public Works Department, Kuching North City Hall and Drainage and Irrigation Department to address the problem of flash floods in the area.

He said residents living in six nearby houses had complained of flooding whenever there was heavy rain during the implementation the project.

“The contractor has been instructed to ensure proper maintenance of drains throughout the construction period so that there is no blockage and water can flow properly.

“We will also discuss long-term solutions with the affected residents, including whether they need to relocate,” he said.

He added that the project was currently slightly behind schedule due to the weather, with the rate of completion at 42.9% instead of the targetted 44%.

It is scheduled to be completed in November this year.

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