Selangor Synergies 7 — bouncing ideas on how to revitalise Klang River

What Marseille and Gothenburg did with their old and abandoned docks at shipyards many years ago is an example to what can be done at Port Klang, says panellist

By HABHAJAN SINGH / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Revitalising the Klang River is a major item for Selangor as the state continues to strenghten its economy.

“We invite all interested parties to see how they can come on board this major project,” said Landasan Lumayan Sdn Bhd CEO Syaiful Azmen Nordin.

He was speaking at the Selangor Synergies 7: Selangor Maritime Gateway forum in Subang recently.

The forum brought together private and public sector leaders to discuss the Selangor Maritime Gateway initiative which seeks to reinvigorate the Klang River and its surrounding areas.

The end in mind is to enhance the socio-economic growth in Selangor through residential, transport-oriented, social, industrial and retail developments.

After years of neglect, the programme will be supported by the Klang River Rehabilitation and Redevelopment project. 

Landasan Lumayan, a subsidiary of Menteri Besar Selangor Inc (MBI), has been entrusted to spearhead the project. And there is much work to be done.

Revitalising Port City

Westports Holdings Bhd group MD Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam, one of the panellists at the forum, felt that Port Klang can be revitalised to make it a nicer place to live.

“In many countries that you go to, the place next to water is the best place to live. Here, it is not. We need to change that image. It is sad to see tired, dilapidated buildings,” he said.

He cited what Marseille did with its old and abandoned docks at shipyards many years ago as an example to what can be done at Port Klang.

“With the use of glass and air-conditioning, they turned the docks with high ceilings into cool places. It’s next to the port. Likewise, we don’t want to tear down our existing buildings,” he said.

The Marseille docks that Ruben mentioned, built between 1858 and 1863 by Gustave Desplaces, measured over 400m with four interlinked warehouse buildings and an administration centre. It was made of brick and stone Louis XIII style, according to a tourist website promoting the city.

After a period of almost total neglect, the docks is said to have been restored to their former splendour thanks to the rehabilitation project undertaken by architect Eric Castaldi.

Fellow panellist Business Sweden country manager for Malaysia Sara Hedin shared the transformation that took place at the port city of Gothenburg.

In the 80s, a dockyard on one side of a river was abandoned when the maritime industry underwent a downturn, leaving it almost like a ghost town. The people were living on the other side of the Göta Älv river.

“In the 80s, a river bank development idea was mooted, looking 50 years ahead. At the end of the 90s, the first residential area opened up in the area.

“No one thought that anyone was going to move there. But people moved to the small, sustainable area. I lived there myself at one time,” she said.

Aside from residential places, the authorities also formed a science park. The Lindholmen Science Park is today described as a bustling centre of activity that promises to shape the global future of transportation, mobility and connectivity.

The park has attracted some of Sweden’s largest and most established firms, including household names like Volvo and Ericsson.

“Now, this is the place to stay. There are two bridges connecting the town, and they are looking at more. If it’s only commercial, it’s empty in the evening. This place has a good mix (of commerce and residence),” she said.

The other forum panellist was Knowledge Economic City in Madinah CEO Datuk Mahmud Abbas, who was until recently the CEO at MBI’s subsidiary Central Spectrum (M) Sdn Bhd. It was moderated by IBR Asia Group CEO Datuk Beatrice Nirmala.

In his welcoming remarks, MBI CEO Raja Shahreen Raja Othman said the project should rejuvenate Klang to make it truly a royal city. Klang used to be the state’s administrative centre before Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam came into being.

The forum was followed by a memorandum of understanding signing between Railway Assets Corp and MBI, witnessed by Transport Minister Anthony Loke and Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari.

The agreement seeks to foster relations between the two parties to jointly explore cooperation in the development of strategic railway assets that supports the Ministry of Transport’s vision and Selangor Smart City initiatives towards achieving the Selangor Smart State 2025 vision.

MBI, which spearheaded the forum, acts as the strategic state investment arm to stimulate economic growth, support the state’s agenda and drive value creation to sustain an equitable wealth distribution.