JOHOREANS and visitors have given the transformation projects by Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and the state the thumbs-up.
Edward Ng, 30, who owns three food-and-beverage outlets in downtown Johor Baru, said much had changed since he first opened his cafe in Jalan Trus in 2014.
When he opened his second outlet along Jalan Dhoby the following year, he said the condition of the area had not been great, with uneven sidewalks as well as dark and dirty back lanes that made his customers feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
“At first there were concerns about how the transformation projects might affect our businesses as construction works took about a year.
“But after the gradual upgrades, we welcomed improvements to the back lanes and sidewalks that had become more disabled-friendly and convenient for baby strollers.
“We also see fewer homeless people and parking touts in front of shops as MBJB has made the area a no-parking zone, ” he said, adding that the area now reminded him of Singapore’s Haji Lane.
However, Ng said it was a shame that shortly after Jalan Dhoby’s upgrade, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and borders were closed, thereby affecting businesses.
He hoped that the city council would provide more parking and add more access points to the outdoor carpark next to Galleria@Kotaraya as patrons had to take a seven-minute drive from Jalan Dhoby to get to the current carpark entrance.
Ng said he had raised the matter with the mayor and even submitted a proposal.
Jewellery shop owner M. Karthik, 52, said the area looked much more attractive compared to some 25 years ago when he first started operating there.
“Now that the Sungai Segget Rejuvenation Project will be completed soon, I look forward to having more visitors in the area once the border reopens.
“Since the upgrades, I noticed a stronger presence of MBJB enforcement personnel and police officers to check illegal parking and traffic obstructions, ” he said.
Meanwhile, marketing executive Khuzzairy Mohd Hussin, 28, who enjoys cafe-hopping in downtown Johor Baru, said the area was much cleaner now.
“As a regular patron here, I really can see the improvements over time.
“Even the lanes have become more photo-worthy and I often see tourists and customers snapping photographs.
“I hope the public will no longer vandalise and litter the area so that everyone can continue enjoying the upgraded facilities, ” he added.