KUALA LUMPUR, 25 April 2009: Three weeks after Datuk Seri Najib Razak went down to the ground to visit three localities in the heart of the city, the prime minister today sprung another surprise when he had a walkabout at the bustling Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Jalan TAR) and Puduraya here.
However, he was not happy with the congestion and the inefficiency of the public facilities during his one-hour inspection, according to Federal Territory Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.
Najib, who was dressed casually in a brown shirt and beige pants, arrived at Jalan TAR, near Semua House at 3.20pm, accompanied by Raja Nong Chik, his deputy Datuk M. Saravanan and Kuala Lumpur city mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail.
At Jalan TAR, which is famed for its textiles and jewellery shops, Najib was briefed by Ahmad Fuad on a proposed multi-storey carpark to be located near Semua House, and other upgrading plans for the areas.
He then spent about 30 minutes walking along the street where he also stopped to chat with the business people and the public there.
Later, he hitched on the crowded LRT (he had to stand) at Masjid Jamek station to the Plaza Rakyat station where he walked to the infamous over-congested Puduraya — where the express bus terminal for the northern and southern zones is located.
Najib, flanked by a phalanx of bodyguards and an entourage of officials, also attracted a large crowd of onlookers, who wasted no time to snap photographs of the nation’s sixth premier.
Later, Najib proceeded to inspect the long-abandoned Plaza Rakyat building project located next to Puduraya before departing at 4.25pm.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters later, Raja Nong Chik said the prime minister had voiced concern over the lack of facilities and congestion at the places and wanted urgent improvements made.
“He experienced first-hand, by the walkabout and boarding the LRT with the people, what they have to go through daily, like jams and other difficulties, in congested areas.
“He said such problems did not augur well for our country which is seeking to become a developed nation by 2020.
“He has instructed the federal territories ministry and other relevant ministries to ensure the facilities are improved for the benefit of the public,” he said.
On the Plaza Rakyat project, Raja Nong Chik said Najib wanted the developer to be given an ultimatum to complete it.
“The prime minister wanted us to give a deadline to the developer to complete the project. If they cannot adhere, we will terminate the contract and look for other means.
“He wants the project to resume as soon as possible,” Raja Nong Chik said.
The project, which initially cost RM1.2 billion had been abandoned for 12 years after it changed hands many times. Its current developer is Global Upline.
The Plaza Rakyat project was supposed to comprise three buildings – a 79-storey, 49-storey and 21-storey — for offices, condominiums and a budget hotel.
On the upgrading plan undertaken by Kuala Lumpur City Hall to ease congestion problems in Jalan TAR, Ahmad Fuad said a project for a multi-storey car park was already in the pipeline.
He said contract for the project on a 0.5 hectare land (near Semua House) had already been tendered out and it was expected to begin soon.
“It’s a 13-storey building and is estimated to cost RM50 million. It will house a multi-storey car park, hawker and trader centres, a multi-purpose hall and office space,” he added. — Bernama