(12 January 2001)

KOTA KINABALU: Former Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee said City Hall should consider public feedback on its project to turn the Gaya Street business district into a pedestrian mall.

In a statement Thursday, he noted that it had been two months since the trial period for the Gaya Street "pedestrianisation" project began.

"As City Hall has promised a review after three months, it is time for the Board of Advisors to convene to prepare accurate feedback from the residents and business community in the area," he said.

Yong, who is also Gaya MP and Likas Assemblyman, said the board should deliberate the views and objections so that sensible recommendations could be made to the City Hall administrators at the end of the three-month trial.

The board should also address City Hall's priorities, especially with regards to its tendency in expending resources on celebrations.

He claimed that City Hall had tried to take advantage of every festival in order to liven up Gaya Street with street parties, variety shows and treasure hunts.

"Such activities had previously been initiated and funded by the private sector, voluntary organisations and the business community, and it never required the total closure of roads." he said.

He noted that such concept of organising festive events had now been taken over by City Hall, "appearing to be a desperate attempt to convince the public that Gaya Street pedestrianisation is a success".

"In reality, the wisdom of the project is still questionable," he said.

According to Yong, these celebrations could not hide the fact that the pedestrianisation in its present form had worsened traffic congestion, reduced the number of parking spaces and caused a perceptible drop in business.

"Based on the feedback from the public since the project started, City Hall would do well to consider the allegations that the planning was insensitive and the implementation was highhanded," he said.

He pointed out that the Gaya Street business community, some of whom had been in the area for nearly 30 years, had commented that if City Hall had to spend government funds to organise parties and offer free parking to draw the crowd, then it must rethink the pedestrianisation project.

This was because Gaya Street, in its old rustic form, had never been bad for business, he said.





Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas







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