LUSH green hills surround the small town of Paya Terubong, making it a good location for those seeking a scenic place to call home.
The town is also strategically located with links to Bayan Lepas, Relau and Balik Pulau.
Although a small portion of the town is taken up by a cemetery, Paya Terubong is believed to be named after terubong, a type of grass known scientifically as Cyrtococcum oxyphyllum.
The town is poised to be developed as a place for luxury living, with developers believing Paya Terubong has the potential to attract middle to high-income earners to make it their home.
However, with more development and more people coming in to stay, long-time dwellers are lamenting the worsening traffic congestion that occurs during peak hours.
Housewife Sally Tan, 50, finds it a nightmare to be stuck in traffic in Jalan Paya Terubong when taking her kids to school in the morning.
“The jam begins at around 7am when people are going to work or bringing their children to school.
“It gets worse when it rains, if there is an accident or if a tree falls on the road,” she said, adding that she had lived in Paya Terubong for 13 years.
Hawker K.T. Ong, 48, said it takes 45 minutes longer than usual to go to Jalan Masjid Negeri from Paya Terubong if he leaves home at around 6.30pm.
He said his wife has to spend an extra 30 to 45 minutes on the road when fetching their child home from school which is only 10 minutes away.
However, the traffic is seen as a blessing for some such as fruit trader Lai Saw Hee, 61, whose stall is at the Air Itam market.
“More cars means more customers,” he said but added that there were too many cars nowadays causing a bumper-to-bumper jam at the market.
He added that business had improved by 20% in the first two months this year compared to the same period last year.
He said it was due to the additional car park bays provided nearby for visitors to the Kek Lok Si Temple and the 30.2m-high bronze Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) statue.
Ong said he would like to see a proper landed market complex or hawker centre to be set up in the area.
He said a multi-storey building slated to be a market was constructed around five years ago but it was not completed, with the building left in ruins now.
Echoing his request is Eric Guna, 52, who operates a nasi kandar stall in a food court in Paya Terubong.
However, Eric wants a market complex to be built within the area of Jalan Masjid Negeri, where he is staying.
“There is a private market in Jalan Gangsa but the produce sold there is expensive.
“I would normally go to the markets in Jelutong and Taman Tun Sardon,” he said.
On the traffic condition in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Guna said there would be a traffic jam after 6pm but it was better controlled when there were traffic policemen to guide the cars.
However, he said the policemen were only present on weekdays.
One of those taking public transport is factory operator A. Amrapathy, 45, who said Rapid Penang drivers would sometimes refuse to stop at the bus stop to pick up the few passengers waiting there.
He said: “Sometimes, they will make a few rounds before deciding to stop and we have to wait for them to do so.”
Technician M. Surendran, 38, who stays in an apartment in Jalan Bukit Gambier, said there should be more amenities such as a bus stop near the petrol station there.
“The nearest bus stop is in front of Universiti Sains Malaysia (in Jalan Bukit Gambier) and that is quite far away,” he said.
He added that those who parked their cars outside the apartments would sometimes be slapped with a fine for obstruction of traffic.
“But our apartment management allows each household to park only one car in the compound. If only there is a proper parking space outside,” he said.
Luxury condominiums are springing up in Jalan Bukit Gambier.
Surendran believes that the construction of a high-rise building nearby has caused cracks on the ground floor of his apartment block.
“Our home is dusty because of the dirt and sand that are blown towards our direction. We have to sweep the floor every day and close the balcony sliding door when the construction is carried out,” he said.
Resident Tan Mei Choo, 45, who works in Bayan Lepas, urged the state government to resolve the frequent jams along the hilly Jalan Paya Terubong.
“Traffic jams occur when a factory bus breaks down or when there is an accident. I’m late to work at least four or five times a month because of the jams,” she said.
She said the Penang Municipal Council had announced that it was mulling over the possibility of constructing another road linking Paya Terubong to Relau.
“This will definitely reduce the traffic jam along the hilly Jalan Paya Terubong stretch. Alas, nothing is moving on the ground,” she added.
Bandar Baru Air Itam residents who are also caught in traffic jams are hoping that the 4.6km Bandar Baru Air Itam-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass project will become a reality.
The Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency consists of three state seats – Paya Terubong, Air Itam and Seri Delima.