WITH the Sia Boey Rejuvenation Project nearing completion, many Penangites are eager to see the place come alive once more.
A check by The Star found that the Sia Boey market hall and its surrounding along Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong are now partially landscaped with a modern playground complete with a clean canal filled with koi fish.
Teacher Ethan Tan, 37, said he was eager to see the beautification outcome of the place which held lots of memories for him when he was younger.
“My father used to bring me to the shoplots opposite the marketplace to buy toys, and in my college days, I used to practise photography there.
“I have fond memories of this place, and I hope to bring my children there when it reopens, as Sia Boey is a reflection of our local culture and living heritage.
“I still vividly remember how the market and the eating place looked like,” he said in a recent interview.
The project is headed by the Penang Development Corporation in cooperation with George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI).
According to GTWHI, the Sia Boey site is also part of Komtar’s phase 5 development project.
Sia Boey, also known as Ujung Pasir, was a bustling market in its heyday.
A passer-by, Carmen Lau, 25, said she caught glimpses of the ongoing works at the site and hoped that the place would be as modern as it looked from the outside.
“I could only see a cube resembling a playground slide from the outside, but it looks modern.
“I hope the place would be packed with facilities for recreation purposes to benefit especially those living in the city,” said the finance executive.
The place will be open to the public after construction work is completed next month.
It is learnt that Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is expected to make a site inspection at the end of the month.
Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng said the project costing about RM5mil was initially scheduled for completion by June but was delayed due to additional work carried out by the contractors.
“We have cleaned up the place and refurbished it, and the dirty water in the canal has been diverted to another drain.
“The canal is clean now,” he said when contacted.
In March 2017, it was reported that heritage activists were outraged over a proposed transport hub at Sia Boey Market and the Prangin Canal.
This followed the discovery of an old canal and the foundation of a building, said to be an old police station or barracks, by archaeologists at the site.
Last year, then Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that Sia Boey would be transformed into an urban park that emphasised heritage and as a community platform for events to be carried out in the area.
He was also quoted as saying that the renewed Sia Boey would serve as a green lung for George Town and Komtar.