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Klang, Gombak Rivers to be iconic waterfronts

KUALA LUMPUR: The Klang and Gombak rivers in the city will be turned into iconic waterfronts the likes  of rivers in major cities like London, Paris, Melbourne and Amsterdam by 2020, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said this would be achieved through the 'River of Life' project which is part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley (Greater KL/LK) Plan under the National Key Economic Areas initiative.

"The government is very committed to the development agenda in future and this 'River of Life' project will be a significant contributor to economic growth and improving the lives of the people," he said when performing the ground-breaking ceremony for the project along the Gombak River bank at Lots 497 and 194 off Jalan Pahang here Friday July 1.

"The 'River of Life' project encompasses three components namely cleaning up the rivers and beautifying their corridors with cycling and pedestrian paths as well as introducing riverine transport to make Kuala Lumpur a world class tourist destination.

"The third component is to develop the government's land bank along the two rivers to stimulate economic growth," he said, adding that to get maximum value, the land bank would be developed in cooperation with the private sector.

He said the project will carried out on a sustainable basis and was expected to contribute around RM11.3 billion or RM1.4 billion annually till 2020 in terms of GDP, or about five per cent of the RM30 billion GDP growth the country needed to achieve from now till 2020 to qualify as a developed nation.

Physical cleaning up of the rivers will begin and when completed, city folks will get to enjoy clean river surroundings that are bustling with activity," he said.

However, he said the onus also lies with the local authorities and the people to maintain the rivers.

Najib added that the government had spend vast sums of money to rehabilitate rivers but they remained polluted with the water quality deteriorating as a result of dumping of rubbish and discharge of effluents into the rivers.

He said 170 tonnes of rubbish were dumped into the Klang River annually with only 25 tonnes able to be retrieved.

Najib said during his visit to South Korea recently, he had the opportunity to see for himself the rehabilitation of the Cheonggyecheon river in Seoul, which he said was a good example of what is envisioned under the 'River of Life' project.

Seoul recorded 18 million visitors to the river's waterfront in 2008 alone with the entire project costing US$470 million. The project also generated 10,700 job opportunities, he said.

He said Malaysia should emulate South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia as these countries had succeeded in achieving per capita income of RM70,000 and that this could be achieved by raising productivity and increasing innovation and creativity.-- Bernama

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