By M Manogaran
One of the problems tourists as well as residents of Cameron Highlands face is the chronic traffic jams that occur especially on weekends.
The traffic jams are so bad that the people are finding it difficult to be punctual for important family functions like weddings and temple celebrations. The authorities have offered all kinds of insignificant excuses and expect the people to believe them.
Cameron Highlands suffers from flooding as well. For instance, just last week Kg Ringlet in Ringlet town was under water and the immediate response from the authorities was to blame rainfall.
It is far from professional for the authorities to blame rainfall. In 2013 when the gates of the Sultan Abu Bakar dam in Bertam Valley were opened, it flooded the valley, resulting in the loss of two lives and untold damage to property. Again the authorities blamed it on rainfall and it looks like they will conveniently do it again in regard to the floods, landslides and soil erosion that occurs there.
What about the hill slopes that are being cleared randomly, leaving vast open tracts of cleared land that can result in potential landslides?
And what about the traffic jams? What are the authorities going to quote to justify their lack of proactive action to tackle traffic jams? Most times, an ordinary ten-minute journey from Tringkap through Kea Farm to Brinchang can take up to an hour due to traffic jams.
The traffic jams are caused by a row of bazaars and shops along the main road. Tourist tend to pull over to purchase produce and souvenirs. In view of this, Tanah Rata assemblyman Leong Ngah Ngah brought up this matter at the Pahang State assembly sitting last year.
As a result, it was decided that a 300-bay parking lot would be built at Kea Farm to allow visiting buses and cars to be parked away from the shopping and bazaar area.
We visited the construction site of the proposed car park at Kea Farm last week and were surprised to find that instead of a car park for 300 bays, more stalls and small shoplots were being built instead.
This decision by the developer and authorities needs to be investigated as the construction of more shops will only lead to further traffic congestion and more traffic jams.
We ask the Majlis Daerah Cameron Highlands (MDCH) to explain this change of plan. It is also believed that some of the shops are being sold at exorbitant prices, way beyond the reach of small traders.
We now want answers to the following:
- Who gave the approval to convert the construction of a 300-bay parking lot into that of bazaars or shoplots?
- How will construction of more bazaars and shoplots at the already congested trading area in Kea Farm help ease traffic jams?
- Who are the real beneficiaries of the construction of these shoplots – the developer, MDCH or other middlemen?
The traffic situation in Cameron Highlands is a serious problem that cannot be neglected.
The people of Cameron Highlands suffer on a daily basis. In situations of urgency especially in regard to medical emergencies, there is the potential of loss of lives because of traffic congestion.
It is hoped that the people of Cameron Highlands are given prompt and proper answers and if warranted, for the authorities to re-look the parking lot project that has been hijacked by certain parties with vested interests.
M Manogaran of the DAP is the former parliamentary candidate for Cameron Highlands and former Teluk Intan MP.
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