As the new government forges its way ahead into new Malaysia, many changes continue to confront us on a daily basis.
There are either some shocking revelations or a surprise announcement on the cancellation of yet another project which is mired in controversy or saddled with lopsided terms deemed unfavourable to the rakyat.
While I have applauded the new government's efforts and silently cheered them on in their endeavours, there is one announcement that I could not agree to, and that was the cancellation of the Mass Rapid Transit 3 (MRT 3). This project, reportedly to cost around RM40 billion, has been deemed unaffordable at present.
MRT 3, or more popularly referred to as the Circle Line, was planned as the third MRT line for the Klang Valley.
This line is essentially a loop that connects the MRT 1 and MRT 2 which run from Kajang to Sungai Buloh and Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya, respectively. In essence, this line would ensure seamless connectivity between the first and second line, enabling the commuters to travel with ease.
I know the government is hard-pressed to fill the debt hole left behind by the previous administration. I understand that this hole is said to be deeper than earlier thought. I also understand that we have to take rather severe measures to cut costs to tackle this. But I think scrapping the MRT 3 project is not the right thing to do.
Kuala Lumpur and many parts of its environ are almost constantly gridlocked in traffic. Some parts of the city are perpetually jammed day and night, resembling a massive car park rather than a highway. The situation is much worse during rush hours.
This situation will only continue to get worse as the population of the Klang Valley increases and car ownership rises in tandem. Travelling time from one point to another is already rather unpredictable and there may come a time when we will go the way of Jakarta or Bangkok.
There is only one way to make this situation better. GET THE CARS OFF THE ROADS! But this is easier said than done.
In order for this to have even a fighting chance of success, we must overhaul our public transport systems. Building more roads is not the answer. The real answer is in getting more and more cars off the road.
No one wants to get stuck in traffic for one-and-a-half hours to get to work in the mornings and another one-and-a-half hours to get home in the evenings.
No sane person would put themselves through this over and over again, every single day. And yet, every day, thousands of people go through this grueling routine simply because they have no other choice.
If the average commuter was not able to get from home to office in a relatively painless manner, the person will not leave his or her car at home no matter how hard you try and persuade him/her.
Effective public transport is the only solution. It has to be seamless, reliable and comfortable. MRT 1 is already up and running. MRT 2 will be completed soon and will complement MRT 1. MRT 3 would have been a crucial connector of both these lines.
We need to continuously work towards improving our public transport system. We need to get more cars off the road and more trains on the road. Only trains are able to move large numbers of passengers from Point A to Point B in a fast and reliable manner.
Here's to hoping the government will revisit the construction of MRT 3 as soon as some of the debt hole is filled up.
Let's hope that this will be sooner rather than later.
Till then, happy hunting and may the force be with you.
Siva Shanker is a real estate practitioner who tries to manage the labyrinth of the property market honestly while consistently maintains a high standard of ethics in his practice. He welcomes feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org