Brickfields folk irked by planned pedestrian bridge

The site of the proposed pedestrian bridge in Jalan Rozario, Brickfields. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PEDESTRIAN bridges are usually a much-appreciated facility in any busy township.

However, when residents and the business community in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, heard about a proposed pedestrian bridge at Jalan Rozario, in front of the Sentral Suites Condominium project, they were not happy.

This is because Brickfields already has more than five footbridges, all within a 1km radius and they are mostly underutilised.

One of the bridges in front of the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) building was opposed by the blind community and demolished last year, 10 years after it was built.

ALSO READ : DBKL to remove bridges in Brickfields

A second bridge, located at Wisma Harapan and connecting to SK (P) Methodist Brickfields in Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4, which had also been considered for demolition, was spared but its lift shafts were removed.

For another one at Jalan Tun Sambanthan, its lift shafts have been under lock and key for a few years now, and the bridge itself has been underutilised.

Stakeholders in Brickfields have been in talks with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) since last year on whether to retain or remove that bridge too.

The local community has been divided on keeping that particular bridge.

Complaints about these bridges being used by the homeless to sleep at night have been ongoing for years.

“Facilities like pedestrian bridges are always welcome in any community but if it is going to be underutilised, we do not want it,” said Dr Christopher Nicholas, a long-time Brickfields resident.

“I foresee that this bridge is going to be another white elephant,” he added.

Another resident, Cynthia Hor said the authorities must engage with the local community to find out what would be best for them.

ALSO READ : Brickfields stakeholders want bridge removed

“Has DBKL not learnt anything from the past?

“The last time, they decided that we needed six bridges within a few hundred metres of each other and then later had to demolish a bridge.

“I am baffled as to why the authorities fail to engage with the public before carrying out a community project,” she said.

Buddhist Maha Vihara temple representative Don Premaseri appealed to the authorities to have a meeting with stakeholders first before building the bridge.

“A good traffic engineering study would reveal many cost-effective opportunities and generate recommendations that could be tabled in a meeting with all parties for a win-win solution.

ALSO READ : Brickfields folk question safety of decade-old bridges

“Instead of proceeding to build the bridge, the party concerned should hold a meeting with residents for constructive and valuable feedback since a couple of the previous footbridges had poor usage rate.

“The money spent was thus wasted,” he said.

He added that the Brickfields community had always given constructive feedback to the authorities such as DBKL and the police, and were happy that some suggestions were implemented.

Brickfields Rukun Tetangga chairman SKK Naidu said he hand-delivered a letter to Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah recently, requesting for more information on the bridge project and the mayor promised to look into it.

“We requested for a dialogue to find out why the bridge was being built there and for whom?

“Based on past experience, we know what happens to bridges that are underutilised.

“So we would like to have a discussion and maybe propose a bridge that links Sentral Suites to the Shell building, Ascott, Suasana Sentral Condo, Jalan Stesen Sentral 3 and Plaza Sentral, which will be a lot more useful,” he said.

Naidu added that residents were hoping to get a clearer picture from DBKL on the pending project and upcoming ones in Brickfields during the meeting.

When contacted, a DBKL officer from Infrastructure and Planning Department said the bridge was part of a private development project and was a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

“We are aware of the residents’ concerns, especially since the other bridges in Brickfields are also part of a CSR project and have been underutilised.

“We will take up the residents’ request for a dialogue with the higher authority,” added the officer.

In 2010, DBKL announced they were building six bridges as part of a CSR project to benefit the community there.

The six bridges were built at a cost of RM10mil.

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