THE Rat Race will not likely slow down in the Year of the Rat, but folks in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur will certainly be able to enjoy a better quality of life, given the Christmas gifts the KL mayor has prepared for them.
Mayor Datuk Hakim Borhan has tabled a budget for the city for 2008 with plenty of good things for the people.
For a start, the theme for the 2008 budget is Towards Developing and Harmonising Kuala Lumpur, reflecting the commitment of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to make the city one of the most pleasant places to live, work and conduct business.
The city folks can look forward to a year of massive infrastructure development, better housing and educational facilities.
The whole budget for next year involves a massive allocation of RM2.457bil, a 3.93% increase from this years figure.
A total of 51.1% of the allocation will be for management while the rest will be used for development.
The development of Kuala Lumpur has to be taken at two levels global and sub-global. The DBKL will continue to create an environment which is appropriate for living, working and business, Hakim said.
In terms of infrastructure development, 2008 will see the building of flyovers and connecting roads at Jalan AmpangJalan Jelatek, Jalan Genting Klang, Jalan Air PanasJalan 1/27A, and Jalan Kepong BaruJalan Api Api.
Road projects in Cheras, Kepong, Bandar Tun Razak, Wangsa Maju and Gombak are scheduled to be completed before the end of next year.
In the city centre, upgrading of existing roads will take place and new connecting roads will also be built to connect Jalan Dewan Bahasa and Jalan Hang Tuah as well as flyovers at Jalan PuduJalan ImbiJalan Hang Tuah.
This is to complete the road system being implemented by the Malaysia Highway Council and includes the DutaUlu Kelang highway and the PutrajayaKuala Lumpur highway, Hakim said.
On curbing flood woes, the DBKL has received RM160mil in grants from the federal government. A further allocation of RM14mil in the budget will mean that the DBKL will have RM174mil for flood crisis management.
The proposed flood alleviation measures include building of water retention ponds, upgrading of drainage systems, and maintenance of river and drain flows.
Three retention ponds in Jinjang, Cheras and Batu will be completed while seven new ones in the vicinity of Ampang Hilir, Universiti Malaya and Bandar Sri Pemaisuri will be built in 2008.
A sum of RM380mil will be set aside for the river rehabilitation project involving parts of the Klang River from Jalan Jelatek to Masjid Jamek.
A sum of RM4mil will be used for the installation of new CCTVs all around the city to complement the current security system.
More public facilities like sheltered pedestrian walkways, shelter areas for motorcyclists, parking lots, cyclist paths, noise barriers and access ways for the disabled will also be developed all over the city.
To make Kuala Lumpur a pleasant liveable city, the DBKL also plans to increase the number of night markets.
A sum of RM42mil is set aside to give the Golden Triangle a facelift in line with the City of Lights theme.
The DBKL will also be giving incentives for development plans of residential projects in the city to encourage people to live in the city to ease mobility between work and home.
According to Hakim, nearly 2.1 million people travel into the city for work each day and the high traffic is causing congestion.
A sum of RM95mil will be used for building recreational parks and green areas.
The Air Panas Neighbourhood Park and the Pudu Ulu Park Phase 2 will be built next year while Taman Tasik Pemaisuri and Taman Metropolitan Kepong will be upgraded.
Environment will be a main focus for next year with campaigns and activities to create environmental awareness among the urban folks. In line with this, RM5mil will be used for tree planting all over the city next year.
A total of RM29.37mil will go into the building of trading lots for hawkers and 1,000 new licences will be issued to small traders to help the low-income citizens.
The residents associations and Rukun Tetangga units will also receive grants to conduct youth-oriented activities in an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people.
A sum of RM12.8mil will be used to upgrade facilities at public housing areas.
The DBKL will also collaborate with the Higher Education Ministry to build two new community colleges in the city for SPM leavers who want to equip themselves with technical and vocational skills.
A sum of RM8mil is dedicated to the building of low-cost houses for civil servants and citizens at PT7 and PT8, Section 98, Jalan Pantai Dalam. A further sum of RM16mil has been set aside for Lot 193, Jalan Kolam Air and Lot 101, Jalan Jelatek.
The DBKL is also conducting a revaluing exercise on properties in Kuala Lumpur for assessment rate purposes but no announcement has been made on whether the amount will be increased or reduced.