Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg defended his decision to build the multi-billion ringgit light rail transport (LRT) system in Kuching when he told the state legislative assembly today that the city is “at the threshold of getting into the LRT system”.
Abang Johari said in the medium term – based on the city’s current pace of natural population growth – car ownership could rise by 25% from 320,000 to 400,000.
“But the population of Kuching City and Greater Kuching can grow faster than the current pace of natural growth.”
He said it is possible for Greater Kuching by 2030 to have a population of 1.2 to 1.3 million people.
That, he added, is a good critical mass for the LRT.
He also said if the government does not start building the LRT now, land cost would increase in future and “we may need more roads, more highways as well as more flyovers to be built which will cost us billions of ringgit”.
In explaining the future transport system of the city, Abang Johari said the LRT would be the core of an integrated system as it would be complemented by the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), taxis and private cars.
He also said there would be lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.
“The core structural plan for Kuching City and for the Greater Kuching area must be the public transport system which will be the catalyst for the future growth of the city,” he told the assembly.
“The full public transport system will be an integrated one.
“The key benefit of building a proper public transport system is that it allows for a lower cost of living for its inhabitants, with affordable housing combined with cheap public transportation,” he said.
The chief minister said the city will then build communities around the LRT and BRT stations.
“By designing properly the expansion of the Kuching City and the Greater Kuching area, we can ensure that the necessary land areas are set aside for public facilities, especially the public transport system and the parks and greens.”
Abang Johari said his “initial basic” LRT proposal would make the Kuching International Airport the hub of the system with lines then going to Kuching city, Damai, Kota Samarahan, Padawan and Serian.
He told the assembly Kuching city planners had been working on LRT proposal “since early this year” and the proposal is based on studies “done by experts from Hong Kong and Singapore”. – dayakdaily.com