Downtown city area now more attractive to visitors


Sungai Segget, which flows along Jalan Wong Ah Fook in downtown Johor Baru, is now cleaner after the beautification project.

CITY folk are generally satisfied with the current state of cleanliness in downtown Johor Baru compared to several years ago.

Sundry shop owner Teo Toh Heng attributed the situation to continuous efforts by Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) to initiate beautification projects of the city.

“Johor Baru residents are also playing a key role to keep their city clean,” he said when met at the family-owned business.

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The shop is located along the row of 100-year-old pre-war buildings in Jalan Segget, which was opened by Teo’s late father about 50 years ago.

“There are so many changes when it comes to cleanliness in the city now, unlike six to seven years ago,’’ he said.

Teo said improvement in cleanliness had attracted more visitors, including Singaporeans, to visit the old parts of Johor Baru city.

Diana remembers how dirty Sungai Segget was in the old days, but the river is no longer filthy.Diana remembers how dirty Sungai Segget was in the old days, but the river is no longer filthy.

“It is good for businesses in downtown Johor Baru after the economic slowdown for three years following the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Teo said the main problem in the area was lack of parking spaces in the old parts of the city, especially for visitors.

He also appealed to MBJB to address the issue of pigeons, which created a mess on the streets and pedestrian sidewalks with their droppings.

Banana cake shop Hiap Joo Bakery proprietor Lim Meng Chin, 70, said business owners in downtown Johor Baru had met MBJB regarding parking woes in the area.

“We do not see any solutions until now and the situation is getting worse,” he said.

Lim proposed that the city council build a multi-storey carpark in the downtown area to address the shortage of parking space.

He said visitors were attracted to retro food and beverage outlets, kopitiam as well as two popular bakeries located at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Jalan Dhoby, Jalan Trus and Jalan Segget.

Lim says improved cleanliness in the old parts of Johor Baru city has attracted more visitors.Lim says improved cleanliness in the old parts of Johor Baru city has attracted more visitors.

“Singaporeans make up 80% of visitors to these streets during weekends,” he said.

He noted that the streets were now much cleaner with sweepers starting work from midnight, while the rubbish truck would come around 7.30am daily.

Lim also lauded the authorities and non-governmental organisations for clearing the streets of drug addicts, homeless folk and vagrants.

“They used to sleep in front of shops in downtown Johor Baru at night and now we hardly see them,” he said.

Credit control executive Diana Tengavelu, 79, recalled how dirty Sungai Segget, which flows along Jalan Wong Ah Fook in downtown Johor Baru, had been.

She said the river would overflow during high tide as the road was levelled with it, unlike now as the road had been elevated.

“The stench from the overflowing water was unbearable,” said Diana.

Sofia says MBJB should have a dedicated wall for people to paint murals.Sofia says MBJB should have a dedicated wall for people to paint murals.

She said the river used to be a dumping ground for people living along the riverbank and traders at the nearby market.

There used to be a market right in the Johor Baru Central Business District (CBD), which opened in 1964 after a two-year construction.

“I remember the place was so chaotic with buses, trishaws and illegal taxis operating near the market,” added Diana.

The Jalan Wong Ah Fook central market in downtown Johor Baru was demolished in 1994.

Some of the traders moved to Larkin public market while others chose to go to the Perling wet market.

The Johor Baru City Square mall and office tower now stand on the former site of the central market.

“After the beautification and rejuvenation project, Sungai Segget is no longer the filthy river that we used to know,” said Diana.

Teo says Johor Baru city is much cleaner now unlike six or seven years ago.Teo says Johor Baru city is much cleaner now unlike six or seven years ago.

Digital marketing executive Sofia Hamka described the Covid-19 pandemic as a blessing in disguise for the city.

“JB is cleaner now because of the travel restrictions when the movement control order (MCO) was imposed at the height of the pandemic,” she said.

The 29-year-old said that while the state of cleanliness in the city had improved a lot, there were a few issues that MBJB needed to look into.

“It is a pity vandalism still happens, with people drawing graffiti on public property and facilities,” she said.

Sofia urged MBJB to instal more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and take stern action against vandals.

She also suggested a dedicated wall for murals, similar to the one in Bandung, Indonesia.

She said the authorities there had provided space for aspiring artists to show their talents.

New murals can be seen on the wall every three months, she said.

“This place has attracted visitors as it is a popular spot for taking pictures,” said Sofia.

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Keeping JB spruced up

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