Tear down the walls – pedestrian is king

(From right) Salma, Muhammad Bakhtiar and Kay Hock inspecting the demolished wall along the five-foot way of the Khoo Kongsi building.

 A WALL along Lebuh Acheh was demolished to make way for pedestrians to walk along the five-foot way in George Town.

The structure on premises owned by the Khoo Kongsi was demolished as a gesture of co-operation with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

It was carried out during the launching of a new programme to remove obstructions from five-foot ways in the George Town World Heritage Site area.

Kongsi trustee Datuk Khoo Kay Hock said when MBPP approached the kongsi regarding three walls on their property in Lebuh Acheh which were blocking the five-foot way, he requested for a notice to be issued to the kongsi.

“When they issued us a notice, I approached our board of trustees who agreed that the walls should be taken down.

“As of now, we have taken one wall down and will be breaking the other two walls soon,” he told a press conference held to launch the programme on Monday.

MBPP councillor Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the main goal of the programme was to make inner George Town more pedestrian-friendly.

A grille gate installed along the five-foot way in Jalan Pintal Tali which is permanently blocking the pathway.
A grille gate installed along the five-foot way in Jalan Pintal Tali which is permanently blocking the pathway. 

“This is part of our council’s ongoing ‘Pedestrian is King’ campaign. Even if the five-foot way is not completely cleared, there must be enough space for a wheelchair to pass through.

“We will be giving building owners who are blocking the five-foot ways a month’s notice and take it from there.

“If they do not get back to us to discuss the obstruction or clear it themselves, then action will be taken.

“We want to raise awareness on how blocking the five-foot way is unfair to pedestrians and wrong under the council’s Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.

“We will give some of them a few months’ grace period before action is implemented. We welcome landlords who would like to come forward and voluntarily remove the obstructions,” he said.

Muhammad Bakhtiar said MBPP had so far discovered 600 permanent obstructions, adding that the council’s target was to clear 10% of those obstructions by the end of the year.

MBPP councillor Khoo Salma Nasution, who will be overseeing the programme, said those who had broken other laws and also blocked their five-foot ways would be looked into first.

“We will give people who are running traditional trades more time as they add value to the heritage enclave.

“Discretion will be used when approaching those who have caused the obstructions as many have been living here and operating their businesses for years.

“We want the landlords to make the initiative to clear the obstructions on their own, to make it easier,” she said.

A check by The Star yesterday showed that some five-foot ways along Jalan Pintal Tali, Jalan Penang and Gat Lebuh Armenian were blocked with permanent fixtures such as grill gates and concrete walls.

There were also removable fixtures such as tables, chairs, carts, vending machines and motorcycles.

The ‘Pedestrian is King’ campaign was launched at the end of 2015 under a five-year project to educate the public on making Penang a pedestrian’s heaven.

Those who have been given notice to clear their five-foot way or wish to participate in the initiative, can contact Munirah or Tuti at 04-2592125/3015.

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