IMAGINE being greeted by an elephant in the back streets of Klang!
This, along with 3D murals of other wild animals, will be painted behind a row of shoplots at Jalan Tengku Diaudin, Klang.
The initiative has become the talking point of the town’s urban renewal project, in which art will be used to enliven the lanes.
Klang Municipal Council (MPK) has enlisted a local artist to create eye-catching 3D murals, expected to be a hit with children and adults alike.
MPK president Datuk Mohamad Yasid Bidin said the back lanes with the animal paintings will be an “Instagram-worthy spot”.
“Our 3D murals will showcase animals that appear to jump right off the wall. It helps bring some pizzazz to the back lanes, while giving people a reason to use the walkways.
“It is also meant to lure more domestic and foreign tourists to shop and enjoy the local food, closer to the KTM Commuter Station at Jalan Stesen,” he said.
He added that the upgrade of the back lanes was a minor component of the RM6mil Royal Klang Town Heritage Walk (RKTHW) project.
“For Phase One, the council has already begun widening the sidewalks from Jalan Stesen outside the Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery up to the corner of Bismillah Restaurant, for a safer walk,” Mohamad Yasid said.
He added that the council would be spending RM146,850 for the murals, lane upgrade and widening of the sidewalks.
“Once the back lanes parallel to Jalan Tengku Diaudin are completed, we will instal close-circuit television cameras and floodlights at night.
“On Friday evenings and weekends, we will encourage the setting up of a flea market which will attract tourists and get them to walk across from Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery before going to other areas for shopping.
“We plan to put up a canopy in the back lane.”
Mohamad Yasid said there has been some criticism over the idea to paint an elephant as part of the mural.
He explained that the decision to paint an elephant mural was based on documented stories of the early 1900s, when elephants and tigers used to wander out of the jungles into the rubber plantations at the fringe of Rembau Street (now Jalan Tengku Kelana), nearer to what is now the Simpang Lima roundabout.
“Those days, people did not dare venture out after 6pm,” he said.
Mohamad Yasid added that other back lanes nearby the KTM Komuter Station in Jalan Stesen would also have murals with different themes.
“Murals along the back lanes are meant to create spaces where people can gather for cultural performances. Buskers and non-governmental organisations can also use these spaces.
“We want more places where people want to spend time.”
He said the idea to upgrade back lanes started from a public poll in which people asked for improved alleys and a dedicated pathway for pedestrians.
Mohamad Yasid said the main tourism spots along the heritage trail would be refurbished to make the sites more attractive.
“The Selangor government, through the state Economic Action Council, has approved RM6mil for tourism development in Klang for the RKTHW project,” he said.
Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Lim Chai Beng said the upgrade was welcomed as this would mean businesses around Jalan Stesen, Jalan Besar, Jalan Tengku Diaudin and Jalan Dato Hamzah could see an increase in tourists, especially since more and more old buildings were being converted into food outlets and budget hotels.
“All stakeholders in the area are happy with Mohamad Yasid’s determination to acquire the state allocation despite earlier setbacks.
“We want this project to go ahead as it will help all businesses in the area,” he added.
Bismillah Restaurant manager Faizal Ali said he was happy that MPK was constructing a wider walkway with pedestrians’ safety in mind.
“I also hope the council ensures the cleanliness of the area as the train station opposite Bismillah Restaurant is considered a popular gateway into Klang,” he said.
Owner of Men’s Choice textile shop, Thiyananthan Bathumalai, whose shop wall will be used for the elephant mural, said, “I hope there will be opportunities for young people to start a trade, once the back lanes are spruced up,” he said.
Mohamad Yasid said the RKTHW project encompasses the heritage walk route, realignment of the movement of traffic entering Kota Bridge to Jalan Raya Barat where a roundabout would be built, and construction of the People’s Square at Padang Chetty.
The council, he added, planned to make Chetty Padang next to the Sri Nagara Thendayuthapani temple in Jalan Bukit Jawa, a meeting point for tourists.
“Our Town and Planning Department feels the spot is suitable as it offers ample parking space for tourist buses and the council’s tourist information booth is located along the heritage trail,” he said.
He added that MPK would be spend around RM180,000 for the entrance sign, RM135,000 for the Royal Town monument, RM405,000 to repaint the old buildings at Lorong Tingkat as well as to construct a new trail and provide new lights under the Phase One upgrades, which would come up to an estimated RM1.2mil.
It is understood that MPK plans to spend an estimated RM2.1mil on Phase Two to construct a maze using a combination of hedge trees and wooden fences to improve the landscape at Padang Chetty.
Under Phase Three, upgrading of walkways, bicycle stations, elevated pedestrian crossing zones and installing interlocking pavers with signal lights are estimated to cost RM2.3mil.