Public services segment crucial in making Kuala Lumpur a sustainable city


KUALA LUMPUR: Healthcare, public transport and education capacity are the major issues in turning Kuala Lumpur into a sustainable city as the population is expected to increase more than 60% to 10 million in 2030, according to Amsterdam-based global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm Arcadis.

Girish“In 15 years, the Kuala Lumpur population is expected to move from 5.8 million to 9.5 million people, and what does it mean for healthcare, public transport, education, and so on? It means if we do not take note of this indicator, it will become a major issue in the future,” said the Arcadis client development director Girish Ramachandran in a breakfast seminar recently.

He said that public and private sectors should work together to improve healthcare, transport, education, as well as quality of life, water supply, and waste collection system for future demand.

“Take healthcare as an example. If another 4.5 million people are coming to Kuala Lumpur within next week, are they (hospitals)ready and have enough beds? We need to plan not based on where we are now but take this indicator and look at 2030,” he explained.

According to the Sustainable Cities Index report issued by Arcadis last month, Kuala Lumpur scored lower in terms of literacy, health, energy efficiency and inequality. However, the index indicated that Kuala Lumpur performs best in terms of low property costs and cost of doing business.

“More affordable housing is being planned by the government now, but I don’t think the pace is fast enough. However, the government has a lot of land in strategic locations such as Kwasa Land [in Sungai Buloh]which will have two MRT (mass rapid transit) stations. The government definitely has plans for more housing. It is key for Malaysia to keep property prices affordable,” said Zerin Properties Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Previndran Singhe.

Girish concluded, going forward, Malaysia should focus on how to grow the country in a sustainable way because sustainability and development are closely connected.

The Sustainable Cities Index explores the three demands of social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit) to develop an indicative ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities. Kuala Lumpur ranks seventh in the Asia-Pacific and second in Southeast Asia after Singapore. The study also showed Kuala Lumpur performs slightly better in terms of profit, scoring just 3% less than London and 8% less than Seoul, which is Asia’s leading sustainable city.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 13, 2015.

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