River of opportunities

Sungai Segget, which runs parallel to the busy Jalan Wong Ah Fook, was covered up and turned into a pedestrian mall in 2005 at a cost of RM6mil. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: The Sungai Segget landscaping and upgrading works, which stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent movement control order (MCO), are back on track and expected to be completed next year.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the project was currently 23% complete.

“We expect the project to be finished by the third quarter of 2021, ” he said, adding that the main aim of the project was to beautify and landscape Sungai Segget and Jalan Wong Ah Fook, which runs through downtown Johor Baru.

He hopes the area would be transformed into a new commercial, cultural and recreational centre in the city.

“We hope this stretch of Sungai Segget will become the focus of activities for visitors, business owners and the people.

“Among the landscaping items include a swale (a shallow channel with gently sloping sides), interactive lighting, children’s playground, improvements to the river wall, reflection pool and sculptures that will be designed by local artists, ” he said when contacted.

Ismail hopes the project would improve opportunities for neighbouring businesses where the attractive and cleaner environment would attract more visitors to the area and boost tourism.

He added that representatives from different sectors and segments of the community, including schoolchildren, were asked to come up with ideas on how to make the river more child-friendly through design elements that take into account safety and security considerations.

“They gave suggestions on street furniture and wheelchair-friendly pavements. The project will also include enhancement of the building façades with painting work and upgrading of Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

“There will also be a recreational pathway for trishaw, bicycle and scooter activities, ” he said, adding that the project was divided into three sections — historical and heritage zone, culture and arts zone, and fun and leisure zone.

The project, which started end of 2019 was supposed to be completed within 18 months.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has been delayed by at least six months.

Work stopped halfway when the MCO was imposed on March 18 to contain the spread of Covid-19. It resumed again on June 10 under the recovery MCO.

“But the workforce at the project site was reduced by 50% under Covid-19 standard operating procedures, ’’ said Ismail.

Some RM240mil was allocated for the project, including a centralised sewerage treatment plant.

River cleaning was completed in December 2016.

The rehabilitation and rejuvenation of Sungai Segget, which flows parallel to Jalan Wong Ah Fook in downtown Johor Baru, is the focal point of the redevelopment project of the city centre.

The 1.4km-long and 23m-wide Sungai Segget was identified as one of the dirtiest rivers in Malaysia before being rehabilitated.

It was covered up and turned into a pedestrian mall in 2005 at a cost of RM6mil.

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