Business operators and visitors to Perak’s Ipoh Old Town, especially the constantly congested Jalan Bijeh Timah-Jalan Panglima area, are eager for a proposed multi-storey carpark project to be built there.
PLANS are in the pipeline for the construction of a multi-level carpark at Ipoh Old Town, a major tourist attraction in the Perak capital.
Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said a proposed location has been identified.
“It is currently in planning and will most probably be located behind the Han Chin Pet Soo (Han Chin Villa) building in Ipoh Old Town.
“We are now working on the design and cost,” he said when met recently.
He added that an announcement would be made when more information was available.
The Han Chin Pet Soo building, housing the Hakka Tin Mining Museum is at the Jalan Bijeh Timah and Jalan Panglima junction.
There is an open-air carpark at the back of the building and another adjacent to it, which is most likely the proposed project site.
Traders, visitors and non-governmental organisations have given the carpark proposal a thumbs up.
Pre-war buildings in the area are occupied by cafes, traditional coffeeshops, galleries, legal firms, tyre shops and watch repair businesses.
The area is also known for its flourishing street art scene that keeps drawing tourists who love capturing photos.
Panglima Lane, popularly known as Concubine Lane, has plenty to offer with local delights, trinket stalls, decorative antiques and quaint shops selling souvenirs.
MMJ Traditional Food Trading manager Leong Key Eng, 24, welcomes the move to have a multi-level carpark as the area that is constantly congested, especially on weekends.
“It is very difficult to find parking here and many people resort to parking illegally, which worsens the traffic situation.
“I look forward to the carpark’s opening as it will ease traffic congestion and provide ample parking for everyone,” added Leong.
Chinese tea shop owner Sky Chen, who operates along Concubine Lane, said the project was good news for business owners and tourists.
It was impossible to find a parking bay on weekends, he said, while on weekdays the bays were taken up by office workers.
“It is never easy finding a parking bay here no matter what day it is,” said Chen, who is in his 40s.
“A multi-storey carpark will definitely do good for everyone, as the area is very congested due to its popularity.”
Qistina Diayana Saiful Adhar, 27, who works at a drinks stall, said the area was in need of a multi-storey carpark as there were inadequate parking bays.
“It will be easier for office workers to park their cars once the building is constructed as they do not have to walk far,” she added.
Engineer S. Dayanandarao, 40, always finds himself making a few rounds before finding a parking spot.
On weekends, he said it could take up to 45 minutes before getting a parking bay.
“It is time a multi-level carpark is constructed not only at Ipoh Old Town but in other high-density business locations too,” he added.
Thomas Chua, 37, a chef from Taiping, said the narrow roads and lanes could not cope with the high number of vehicles entering the area.
“It can be dangerous for pedestrians because the traffic volume here is heavy,” he said, adding that a multi-level carpark would help address the congestion problem to a certain extent.
AJ Kinta Perak Community Welfare Association president Roslan Ali said the carpark was a much-needed facility.
He hoped that the government would also consider building public toilets, surau as well as a rest area within the proposed building.
He said the area received many Muslim tourists and they found it difficult locating a restroom and prayer room.
“Since there are plans to construct a building, the government should consider having proper public toilets with an attendant as well as adequate signage to the nearest places of interests, worship and emergency contact numbers,” he added.
Ipoh City Watch president Prof Richard Ng expressed concern that the carpark’s construction was likely to take two years at least and in the meantime, existing parking bays would have to be removed to make way for the development.
He suggested that a multi-level carpark be built outside Ipoh city centre, such as next to the Paloh Condominium or Kampung Kuchai where there was vast vacant land.
“Shuttle services from the carpark to Ipoh Old Town should be introduced to help reduce congestion at the tourist site,” he said.
Ng, who is an Ipoh city councillor, also suggested that the three-storey carpark along Jalan Dato Maharajalela, located about 650m from Concubine Lane, be upgraded.
He said before the 15th General Election, the Ipoh City Council had hired a consultant to inspect the carpark.
“A report was presented in October 2022 where the cost of restoring the building was estimated at RM2mil.
“The city council had opened it for tender but there were no takers.
“Back then, I spoke to the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI) to restore the carpark as its corporate social responsibility effort.
“PCCCI proposed that the top-most level of the carpark be turned into an open air cafe, the second level be reserved for shops selling handicraft and tourism-related products while the ground level be used to accommodate 30 parking bays,” he said.
Ng hoped that the carpark, which has some structural damage, would be refurbished and not demolished.