KL launches plan to revive Klang River

KL launches plan to revive Klang River
Kuala Lumpur City Hall is leading an ambitious plan to clean up the river, and line it with clean walkways and shady trees. Previous government efforts to clean the river in 1993 and 1997 came to nought because of the difficulty in getting different agencies to work together.

KUALA LUMPUR - London has the Thames, Paris the Seine, and Singapore the Singapore River.

Kuala Lumpur, too, has the Klang River, which winds through the city centre and flows into the Strait of Malacca.

But for years, the river has been an eyesore, with some parts looking more like a dump site and a storm drain than the historical waterway it is.

It wasn't always like this.

Mr Siew Wei Hann, 58, a beef noodle seller who grew up near Petaling Street by the river in the 1960s, recalls fondly the monsoon season.

The Klang River, he told The Straits Times, would be filled to the brim. "The water was crystal clear back then and we could see lots of fish swimming with the currents. People would come with their fishing nets."

Over the years, rapid development and poor urban planning have narrowed some parts of the 120km river and, in turn, resulted in flash floods whenever the city is hit by a storm. These days, its vile stink turns people off from strolling along the footpaths that line it.

All that is about to change, at least according to the government's plan.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall is leading an ambitious effort to clean up the river, and line it with clean walkways and shady trees.

The goal is to turn the Klang River into a vibrant waterfront.

The plan is known as the "River of Life" project and is set to cost RM4 billion (S$1.5 billion). The government is working with various agencies to improve sewerage and drainage systems, relocate squatter homes and stop factories from dumping waste into the river.

Previous government efforts to clean the river in 1993 and 1997 came to nought. It was difficult to get different agencies - from environmental departments to municipal councils - to work together.

Things could be even tougher this time around since Selangor is now governed by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat government, while the federal government agencies come under Barisan Nasional.

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