Sungai Melaka project a model for others
By Jason Gerald | firstname.lastname@example.org
REHABILITATION: The once lifeless waterway has been turned into Malacca’s most lucrative tourism product
THE phrase "Everything began in Malacca" is not something which was just coined to attract tourism, but is in actual fact what this state has to offer to other states in Malaysia.
The birth of the nation is attributed to the glory of the Malacca sultanate in the 15th century, and Malacca is where the independence of Malaysia was first announced by the country's founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj at the Dataran Pahlawan in Banda Hilir.
Malacca has been a benchmark for many developments in the country after the state was steered into becoming a developed state -- recognised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -- and is now spearheading the nation's green technology initiatives.
And now, what was once famed as one of the busiest ports in the world, the Melaka River, is becoming a benchmark for the rehabilitation and beautification of rivers throughout the country.
Known as the Venice of the East in the 15th century, the waterway had slowly deteriorated and became one of the dirtiest rivers in the country till some 12 years ago.
In 2001, the state government, with assistance from the Federal Government, had embarked on the first phase of the Melaka River beautification project costing some RM200 million.
The first phase of the Melaka River rehabilitation project started at the tip of the river mouth to the Hang Tuah bridge which included the construction of two new jetties and an archway across the river.
The restoration and beautification project paid off handsomely, as now the once lifeless river has not only been revived but it has been turned into the most lucrative tourism product that Malacca has to offer.
The recent Sungai Melaka International River Festival created history when the Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general, Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman, said the State administration's success in turning the river into one of the finest in the country, region and also the world would be the main point of reference for the revival and beautification of all rivers in the country.
The effort taken by the Malacca government in beautifying the Melaka River has not only managed to turn the river into a commodity for tourism but also helped in mitigating floods.
Under the 10th Malaysia Plan all rivers in the country were allocated RM3.47 billion for flood mitigation works, rehabilitation and beautification exercise. Melaka alone was allocated RM285 million.
In Malacca's case, this money was not only used for flood mitigation works but also for the cleaning, beautification, and upgrading of the river system from the Sungai Melaka estuary right up to Malim.
This success of making Sungai Melaka into a living river is proposed to be replicated across the country.
Sungai Melaka is flanked by several delightful structures such as the Dutch or Red Square, traditional villages and other tourist attractions. In the second phase of its rehabilitation would start at the Hang Jebat bridge up to Batu Hampar, covering 5.2km.
The second phase would be divided into three main work packages; first would cover a 2.4km waterway from the Hang Jebat bridge to the Tun Razak bridge, followed by 1.2km from the Tun Razak bridge to the Melaka Sentral bridge, and the final package from the Melaka Sentral bridge to the Tidal Control Gate that stretches for 1.6km.
This would also include deepening the depth of the river, constructing walls and walkways along the river, landscapes, three water taxi stations at Taman Rempah and Jusco AEON, building unique bridges and beautifying the banks of the river.
Once the project is completed, the water quality of Sungai Melaka is expected to improve from class 111 barometer to class 11B by the year 2015.
The current success of the Melaka River rehabilitation and beautification project could also be seen through the Melaka River Cruise.
When the cruise started in 2006 there were only 56 visitors, but last year alone it attracted some 1.1 million passengers, and this year it is targeted that the Melaka River Cruise would attract some 1.4 million visitors.
Besides being a benchmark for rivers in Malaysia, the Malacca government is also aiming to work towards getting this event listed on the World Tourism Calendar of Events, similar to the San Antonio River festival in Texas, United States.
Read more: Sungai Melaka project a model for others - Columnist - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/sungai-melaka-project-a-model-for-others-1.299900#ixzz2WE8IVouO