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Monday January 5, 2009

Klang folk upset that bus terminal is being relocated after all

THE relocation of the North Klang bus terminal from Jalan Pos Baru to Jalan Meru on Dec 27 last year has resulted in the phasing out of the royal town’s landmark that has been around for almost 40 years.

There has been a lot of protest over the relocation to the RM12mil Klang Sentral bus station, which is 9km from the town centre.

Contentious issue: The new Klang Sentral bus terminal at Meru.

The main grouse is that commuters have to pay higher fares for the bus and taxi rides.

For example, the fare to Kuala Selangor from the old terminal was RM4 while the fare from Klang Sentral is RM5.30.

Many Klang folk had envisaged that the terminal would have gone in May, 2003, after a fire razed the three-storey complex which also housed the Great Wall shopping centre.

The buses used the ground floor while the shopping complex occupied the top two floors of the building located between Jalan Pos Baru and Jalan Batu Tiga Lama.

The fact that the complex was declared unsafe after the incident and the Klang Municipal Council’s subsequent decision to demolish the building gave weight to speculation that the bus terminal would be relocated to the then proposed site of Klang Sentral.

The council announced in Dec 2004 that a bus terminal would be built at the proposed Klang Sentral project site in Jalan Meru.

As I was based in The Star’s Klang bureau then, I also experienced the ordeal that thousands of commuters went through with makeshift bus stations in Klang town.

Against the move: A group protesting against the relocation of the bus terminal in front of Plaza MPK.

I followed developments in regard to the bus terminal very closely and even covered the announcement by then council president Datuk Mohd Sharif Yusof that the move to Klang Sentral would be final.

At that time, there was talk that a new multi-storey shopping complex would be built at the former site.

The issue was put to rest when Sharif’s successor Abdul Bakir Zin announced in June 2006 that the bus terminal would remain at the former site.

However, despite announcing that a modern bus complex would be built soon after taking over from Sharif, Abdul Bakir was instrumental in creating a bus terminal with an open concept complete with green landscaping.

The reopening of the RM700,000 bus terminal in Jalan Pos Baru in Sept 2006 gave new hope to the people, especially the thousands of commuters and bus operators, that the terminal would remain at the site.

In restrospect, however, it looked as though the council had decided to relocate the terminal, especially when it scaled down the rebuilding of the terminal from a modern complex to one with just shades.

Perhaps the council wanted to buy time until the Klang Sentral terminal was ready.

But surely, Klang folk would have expected the new state government to listen to stakeholders such as commuters, bus operators, non-governmental organisations and elected representatives before proceeding with the relocation.

The million-dollar question that remains in the minds of Klangites is:What will happen to the former site which was the town’s centre?

Will it be replaced by a muti-storey shopping complex or is a hotel in the pipeline?