JOHOR BARU: A rejuvenation project in downtown Johor Baru, that started in 2016, is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to beautify the city centre but the presence of parking touts continue to mar its image and frustrate road users.
The touts could usually be seen hanging around along Jalan Trus, Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Segget here, waiting for handouts from motorists who park their vehicles there.
Civil servant Razif Razali, 30, said he usually gives the touts RM2 when parking his car along these roads.
“I pay them because I want to avoid unwanted incidents such as damage to my car.
“The touts are always hanging around, waiting for motorists to make some money.
“When they see vehicles approaching, they wave and direct them to parking spaces and wait by the vehicle for payment.
“There is no way to avoid paying them.
“I give them RM2 because some friends have claimed that their vehicles were scratched and damaged when they refused to give the touts money, ” said Razif, who frequented the shops along Jalan Trus a few times a week.
Car saleswoman Cheng Lee Heng, 43, said the touts were a nuisance, besides creating a negative image for Johor Baru, which was on a quest for world city and metropolis status soon.
“I hope the authorities look into the matter and get rid of the touts.
“We want a clean and safe city to live in, not feel intimidated by these touts who sometimes bully and frighten motorists into giving them money, ” said Cheng.
Laundry shop owner G. Paramasivan, 62, said there were at least 15 touts in the area.
“My customers often complain about them, ” he said.
He said now that the road in front of his shop, along Jalan Dhoby, had been turned into a no-parking zone, his business had dropped.
“My business was affected by about 80%, partly because customers find it inconvenient to park far away and walk to my shop with their laundry load.
“Another reason was the movement control order and border restrictions as a large number of my customers were from Singapore, ” he said.
“Previously, customers could easily park in front of my shop to drop off or pick up their laundry.
“Now, besides other problems, the touts are also bothering my customers when they come here, ” he lamented.
Paramasivan, who has been operating his shop for 17 years, said he appreciated efforts by the authorities to beautify the area but poor business was affecting his livelihood.
Shaun Singh, 35, a manager at a cafe along Jalan Dhoby, said although the road has been turned into a no-parking zone, there were still some irresponsible motorists who parked illegally on the roadside.He said more proper planning was needed for the rejuvenation project, including making available more parking lots for the public and improving the public transport system.
“This way, customers can park their vehicles at safe and designated parking spots and enjoy coming to the area on foot.
“They will also not face having to deal with the touts.
“Right now, motorists main concern is the inconvenience of having to make turns on the one-way street to look for parking space before walking a distance to visit the shops here, ” he said.
On a more positive note, Shaun said the area was much cleaner now and once tourists were allowed to enter Johor again, the place would become lively.
Johor housing and local government committee chairman Ayub Jamil said the rejuvenation project, which included the beautification of backlanes and preservation of 195 buildings, was expected to be completed in the next two years.
He said he will also ask Johor Baru City Council to look into the problem of touts and other problems affecting businesses and the public in the area.
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