THE birds chirp and hop about in their cages, while owner Saw Chay Yong keeps a watchful eye on his magpies (murai) from his workshop nearby.
Saw and his neighbours are among the communities that have adopted the back lanes in their neighbourhood as part of the Laneways Project by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Saw’s group adopted the back lane behind The Yard Boutique Hotel by adding benches, potted plants and birds along that stretch.
The same spot was also given a facelift by DBKL, with large murals painted and lights installed to create the feel of a backyard.
“There’s been an increase in tourists and visitors passing by to take photos and relax since the back lane was beautified,” said Saw, 52, with pride.
“I thought it would be nice to place my songbirds here to complement the atmosphere. They are brought out in the daytime and kept in my workshop at night.”
The Laneways Project to beautify involves seven lanes and one public space around Jalan Berangan, Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang, Jalan Rembia, Jalan Tengkat Tong Shin and Jalan Alor.
DBKL Planning executive director Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd said the entire project would cost about RM1.5mil and is expected to be completed by December this year.
“We started the project in October last year. Each scheme takes about four to five months to be completed,” he said, adding that three schemes have been completed, one is ongoing while four have yet to start.
“We sought the permission of the building owners to uplift and spruce up the area, and worked with local artists for the murals.
“The local communities and stakeholders have also embraced the project, with some adopting the back lanes and contributing personal touches.”
Mohd Najib said the Laneways Project aimed to beautify and upgrade the back lanes, create a more active space, and make the city brighter and safer for pedestrians and tourists.
“The project has had economic benefits for the communities here,” he said.
“The rental value has gone up by 30% to 40%, hotels are recording more patronage, and previously dark and dirty places are turning into tourist attractions,” he added.
“Each scheme features their own theme, such as backyard, river, food festival and culture. The concept was selected based on the history or significance of the area,” said DBKL Project Implementation and Building Maintenance Department architect Natasha Azim Hussin.
“The scope of the project included upgrading existing infrastructure, installing pedestrian and decorative lights, cleaning and repairing wall and floor surfaces, engaging local artists to paint 2D and 3D walls, and adding plants on the ground and wall.”