Is Bukit Kiara Park Makeover Worth The Millions Spent? – Lim Chui Choo

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The toilets undergoing costly renovation at Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.” – Theodore Roosevelt

After almost four years, a “dead” man-made waterfall that used to be the source of life in Lembah Kiara Park will spring to life again before completion of upgrades by the National Landscape Department (JLN) in mid-May.

And all because JLN said that it did not have the budget to buy a new pump to replace the one broken down since 2010.

Above the waterfall, a half-painted red steel bridge lies in suspension propped up by a make-shift steel scaffolding. This steel bridge is being constructed to replace the wooden suspension bridge fondly dubbed by park users as “Indy Jones’s bridge” which had made LKP famous.

Why are “rigid” materials like steel plates used for the base and solid steel railings for the sides if the bridge is a suspension bridge?

More importantly, will the new bridge be safe for park users given the heavy load of the steel plates used for the base and with solid steel railings added on for the sides which have yet to be installed?

Why were the original cables supporting the twin pillars at both ends of the bridge not changed or strengthened in line with the upgrade of the new bridge?

Apparently, two additional smaller cables have been extended midway from the bridge to a makeshift constructed concrete base on the slope after concerns were raised but will these be sufficient to steady the bridge once the steel scaffolding below the steely bridge are removed?

Why were suggestions from park users to use natural material like chengal wood, which would blend in with the natural environment and had withstood the park and its users in good stead for the past 20 years not considered by JLN in its “makeover” of the suspension bridge?

Whatever design JLN may have on its “upgraded” steel bridge, park users will rather wait in suspense for 25 heads of departments from the relevant authorities to make their maiden walk across the bridge first, based on the maximum weight allowed on good old Indy.

A park user, Mr Shah, had complained last week he slipped and nearly fell on the supposedly anti-slip steely bridge after the rain.

Park users are also asking why the “super bungalow” toilet has been converted into a “resort office” for JLN enforcement officers.

Their cries reached a crescendo during the recent water crisis when the old run-down toilets at the entrance of the park was closed temporarily resulting in some park users having to answer the call of nature in the bushes!

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The pond filled with still water in the Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

The existing toilets at the entrance of the park are insufficient (only two each for women and men) and are smelly which makes one wonder why JLN is spending millions in “upgrades” when a basic amenity is lacking and not maintained in the park.

A new toilet at the entrance had been built next to the existing old one only to be abandoned as JLN later discovered it will pollute a nearby stream.

Why not convert this new abandoned toilet into an office rather than waste more taxpayers’ monies to convert the costly “super bungalow toilet” in the park? Shouldn’t any conversion of the super bungalow toilet rightfully be designed for the rakyat’s benefit?

Park users are also questioning why they need to be monitored by the authorities when all they do is walk, jog, breathe and do tai chi?

What is the rationale for enforcement officers to be housed in a “resort office”? Any effective enforcement is mostly at the first point of entry, that is, at the entrance of park.

There is an existing spacious security house at the entrance of the park which is under-utilised. Why not use the existing security house to accommodate whatever enforcement officers?

Park users are also questioning the one too many gazebos (eight) and “rehat platforms” that seem unutilised, especially on weekdays.

In fact, the “rehat platforms” have already posed maintenance issues with fallen leaves and branches from the trees encircling them, while the polymer composite planks appear chipped or broken in some places.

Was there also a necessity to replace all the old power cables and working antique pole lights?

While new cables and lighting up on the jogging track were necessary and a welcome sight to park users, the existing cables and lights down were working except for probably only a handful of lights.

Was it cost effective to replace all the antique poles and to install 230 lights with electricity rates up by 15%?

After the initial haste to complete the unnecessary structures, there was a temporary halt to the JLN upgrades while mosquitoes multiply and make hay in the park.

An English expatriate who has made Malaysia his second home in Taman Tun Dr Ismail had this to say: “I went round the park last weekend – sad to see all the mud holes full of water- good mosquito breeding there, too. Got bitten to bits – a bit ironic when there is a banner outside about the war on Aedes… Really sad to see how the park has ‘improved’.”

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The ‘upgraded’ steel bridge. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

Another French expatriate was more scathing about the “upgrades” in the park when he took his children there in December 2013.

He was “horrified by what LKP had turned into and I’ll never ever want to come back here again…”

Other park users like Siti Hansen, Mohamad and Pete Chin asked what happened to their suggestions for more “softscape” in the park.

If only JLN had spent a little of the taxpayers’ money in what had made Putrajaya proud and famous, park users might be singing a different tune. – April 16, 2014.

* Lim Chui Choo is a child of nature and reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

TRAKS Trail Day - Sunday 20 April @ Bukit Kiara, 08:00

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  • Date: Sunday, 20 April
  • Time: 08am
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Meeting location: 4-Ways @ Bukit Kiara, (3°09’07.9”N 101°38’14.6”E if you’ve been living under a stone lately)

Now that the rains have started again, we need to do a major effort on a number of fronts. First and foremost, we need to rake all the trails. That’s right. All of them! It will be impossible to do it all in one shot, but we can start on the 20th and work towards having the leaves off them over the coming weeks after that.

The second focus is to open up the water bars on every major downhill section. The one with the biggest need is Twin Peaks since we’ve already seen some erosion starting again, so let’s clear the water bars of all debris and make them deeper. No new water bars needs to be created here having already been done before. On other trails there may need to be new water bars depending on the last time that work was conducted on them.

The third and final focus is to pick up the trash that has amazingly accumulated by ignorant fools who are using the trails. Please make sure that you harp on everyone to pack-it-in/ pack-it-out so that we can start to reduce such ignorant behavior. In the future, if you ever see someone doing this, hammer them, humiliate them and publish their name on our TRAKS Facebook page.

Please bring your own tools (rake and changkul). We have a few, but not enough to provide to everyone.

For those of you who are responsible for trails under the Kiara Adopt A Trail list, please make sure you join us. The intent is that you will be handling your trails and snagging teams of people to assist. If you don’t remember what trail you are responsible for, shame on you ! We have the list and will post it.

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Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !
Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.  Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.  Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.
Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society

Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !

Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.

Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.

Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.

Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society

Environment Ministry: Water From Only 10 Rivers Drinkable

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The Star Online by Yuen Meikeng - Photo: fakawitribe.com

Kuala Lumpur: Water from only 2% of the 473 rivers in the country are drinkable without any treatment.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit told Parliament the 10-odd rivers were categorised under Class 1, which refers to a standard of river water that is clean enough to drink.

He did not name the rivers.

“The number comprises 2% of the total 473* rivers in which quality is monitored by the Department of Environment (DoE). This is based on records from the department in 2013,” he said during question time.

He said the 10 rivers were part of the 275 rivers classified under Class 2 (rivers which are considered clean.)

“This means that 58.1% of our rivers are clean. We must always be careful and ensure that the quality of water in the 275 rivers are always maintained,” he said.

On The Star’s frontpage report on the annual 300,000 tonnes of garbage being thrown into rivers, James said the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) had built catchments to stop the thrash from flowing into the sea.

“The collection of garbage from rivers is also carried out by the local authorities and the DoE.

“The DoE and DID monitors cases of organic waste or toxic materials being channelled into rivers and their reports will be forwarded to the Attorney-General for action,” he said.

James added that 23,000 tonnes of solid waste and garbage were generated from Malaysians daily.

It was reported by The Star that about 300,000 tonnes of garbage, enough to fill 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools, are being dumped into rivers yearly and the constant pollution is adding to the prolonged water shortage.

*”A Sungai Runs Through It**” in Bukit Kiara WAS classified as a Class 1 by the Global Environment Center (GEC), now not so sure anymore…

** See the story of the “Sungai Runs Through It" river here via Fakawi.com.

Keep Bukit Kiara clean, green and refreshing

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By Dr. Pola Singh - The Star Online, 31 March 2014

I live near the Bukit Kiara Park. If God had granted me one wish in my lifetime, that wish would be to live next to a spacious green lung and clean natural forest.

And yes, my dream has sort of come true. Like hundreds of other residents in my neighbourhood, I walk up the hill every other day and enjoy the cool fresh air and relish a good workout.

The Bukit Kiara Park not only provides a great place to exercise but also for children to play, families to gather, neighbours to meet and stressed-out city folks and nature lovers to enjoy a peaceful retreat.

Aside from enjoying a good workout at this green lung, its tranquil and pleasant setting is home to many wild plants, birds, monkeys and other animals.

Thanks to the good work of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which builds and maintains mountain bike trails all around Bukit Kiara, the public can now go on a number of interesting jungle trails while enjoying the beauty of nature.

All of this would mean nothing if efforts to keep Bukit Kiara clean and green are not given serious attention.

If left unchecked, Bukit Kiara will slowly become a rubbish dump.

Along the paved roads, dustbins are often toppled by the monkeys and rubbish gets strewn all over.

Hardly a soul would put things right and when I do, I only get cold stares.

The cleanliness of the area around the guardhouses should be the responsibility of the guards.

Many a time, when the monkeys topple the big trash bins, the security guards simply ignore the scattered rubbish and pretend that they don’t notice the toppled bin. The guards should be conscious of keeping their environment clean by playing their part or be directed to do so by the authorities.

While the authorities do collect this trash once in a while, this is not so along the jungle trails.

As more and more walkers, hikers and cyclists sweat it out on this increasingly popular hill, especially during the weekends, the jungle trails are now besieged with an increasing amount of trash.

It appears that some of them do not seem to care about keeping the hill clean. They take the easy way out by dumping their rubbish along the trails.

Empty plastic bottles and bags, umbrellas and jogging paraphernalia are discarded and scattered all over.

Every time I hike up the Bukit Kiara jungle trails, my heart sinks when I see plastic bottles strewn along the trails. They have become an eyesore.

Bukit Kiara will lose its charm if such attitudes are not changed.

I would like to appeal to all hikers, walkers and cyclists using the jungle trails to be more responsible by refraining from throwing any trash on the trail but instead take their trash out especially the empty mineral water bottles.

To get rid of the existing trash, they could do all of us a great favour by picking up one piece of trash each time they go on their hike or cycling trip.

The message to be internalised by all: Please leave your footprints, not your trash.

Dr. Pola Singh, Kuala Lumpur