JOHOR BARU: Business owners along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee in Johor Baru town here are crying foul over the closure of the road to make way for a project by the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB).
The road, which has shops as old as 100 years old, was closed on Nov 25 and is expected to reopen on Dec 1. The road leads to the most popular cultural centre in Johor Baru.
Among those affected are Tian Tau Choo, 60, who operates one of the oldest shops in the city selling banana cakes.
“We are already facing problems with projects going on along Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhobby, causing disruption of the sewerage system, among others.
“The number of visitors has also dropped significantly since projects along other roads nearby began in July, ” he said, adding that sales had dropped by at least 30%.
Another business owner, Lim Meng Chin, 66, whose coffee shop is located right in front of a huge hole dug for the project, said that he suffered at least a 68% drop in sales.
“This hole has been here for about two weeks now, making it a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests.
“It is also very dangerous to walk around here and I fear that customers may fall into the hole and hurt themselves, ” he said.
Johor Baru Tiong Hua Federation president Datuk Seri Teh Kim Chai, who met with local traders here recently, said MBJB’s project should be postponed until other major projects around the city were completed.
“There are already a few beautification projects taking place, including at Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhobby, and the local authority should focus on completing these projects first before starting another one.
“Businesses are already suffering due to the slow progress of the projects. These are causing many problems for the local community and tourists, ” Teh said.
Also present at the press conference was Perling assemblyman Cheo Yee How, who said he will bring the matter up to the attention of the local authority.
In a statement, MBJB said the projects in town were necessary as part of preparations for Visit Johor 2020.
“The road and infrastructure upgrading works need to be conducted as soon as possible since we are expecting millions of local and international tourists during Visit Johor Year 2020.
“Johor Baru town will look cleaner and more modern once these projects have been completed. This will also help to spur economic activities in the area, ” it said.
The statement also said that the project at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee was initiated due to complaints from the public on the road riddled with potholes.