IT HAS only been 17 months since the first phase of the multi-million-ringgit River of Life (RoL) beautification project had its grand launch, but the iconic city attraction is already showing signs of distress.
The first phase, launched on Aug 28, 2017, comes under Precinct 7 and encompasses what is called the Heritage Quarter.
Also known as the heritage trail, it covers the Masjid Jamek area, Sultan Abdul Samad building and its riverfront.
StarMetro visited the area following complaints that some parts were exhibiting signs of decay.
During our visit, we noticed that many of the attractions, including the water fountains, sunken pools and imported Turkish tiles were damaged and faded.
Most of the fountains were not working and in some places, the beautiful red and blue Turkish tiles at the fountain area had come apart.
Work on Precinct 7 was carried out at a cost of RM160mil. Some parties think that the damage could be due to a rushed job.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, however, blamed vandalism.
“We are aware of the defects affecting the project, it is very unfortunate it has come to this state.
“But the damage is due to vandals. Although the project contractor is supposed to fix defects, damage caused by vandalism and theft is beyond their work scope,’’ he said.
Nor Hisham added that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would need additional budget to repair the various damaged parts and that it was seeking funds from the Economic Planning Unit.
“The biggest challenge now is that there is no designated contractor or body that will take over the management and carry out maintenance of the project since it has been completed.
“This causes delay in carrying out repair works. The longer we wait, the worse the condition gets,’’ Nor Hisham admitted.
The project contractor, EkoRiver Construction Sdn Bhd, has already handed over the project to DBKL, and the company’s defect liability ends in June.
The authorities had estimated that repairs would cost about RM1mil.
During StarMetro’s recent visit, we noticed that there were people sleeping in and around the area even though it was daytime.
Those working in the area said more people can be seen sleeping there at night.
“I have seen people washing their hands and body using water from the fountains.
“Once, I saw a half-naked man go into the fountain pool, oblivious to the people around him,’’ said George Peter, an IT specialist whose office is located nearby.
Grab driver Tahir Lokman said he too saw people washing their hands at the fountain after eating.
“Once I saw a man washing his clothes in the fountain pool,” he added.
EkoRiver Construction, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ekovest Bhd, received the letter of award from DBKL to design and build the project costing RM79mil.
Ekovest has a 60% stake in the joint-venture company that was appointed in 2011 as the project delivery partner for RoL a project by the Government.
Apart from Heritage Quarter, Precinct 7 also includes areas such as St Mary’s Cathedral, Countdown Clock, Panggung Bandaraya, HSBC, Leboh Pasar Besar, Central Market, Dayabumi building and the site around Pasar Seni LRT station.
There are 11 precincts, namely river corridors in Titiwangsa, Pekeliling, PWTC, Sime Darby loop, Dang Wangi, Raja Laut, Masjid Jamek, railway station, Brickfields, KL Sentral and Seputeh.
The RoL project is aimed at breathing new life into the polluted Klang and Gombak rivers as well as transforming the city centre of Malaysia’s capital into a vibrant hub for its citizens. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.
There are three major components in the RM4.4bil project –- river cleaning, river master planning and beautification and river development.
Of the amount, RM3.4bil is for cleaning up the rivers and RM1bil for landscaping.