KUALA LUMPUR: With the launch of a RM4 billion river cleaning up and beautification project yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hopes Kuala Lumpur will eventually be one of the great cities in the world.
However, he said the project required not just physical development but a revamp in the people's thinking and attitude, especially towards rivers.
The PM described Sungai Klang that runs through the city as an under-utilised natural asset that held the potential to become a vibrant and liveable waterfront with high economic value.
Identified as an Entry Point Project under the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley National Key Economic Area, the River of Life project seeks to transform Sungai Klang and Sungai Gombak into an iconic waterway at par with that in cities like London, Paris, Melbourne and Amsterdam by 2020.
Apart from sewage being dumped into the river, Najib said about 170 tonnes of garbage also found its way into Sungai Klang annually but the authorities managed to scoop up only 25 tonnes.
"I visited the CheongGyeChoen river project in Seoul recently. The project is the best example of the transformation of a polluted and dirty river into a model river complete with beautiful walkways, bridges and fountains," he said when launching the River of Life project here yesterday.
The River of Life project comprises three components, which are the cleaning up, beautification and real estate development, along the river corridor.
The cleanup will be conducted along a 110km stretch throughout the Klang river basin.
The target is to improve water quality from its current Class III to Class IIB, which would make the river suitable for recreational activities, by 2020.
A sum of RM3 billion has been allocated for the clean-up with a balance for beautification works.
The transformation of the river will include beautification of the river bank from Titiwangsa to Brickfields.
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall held a River of Life master plan competition that ended on June 15, and they have short-listed five of the 22 entries.
Three are from international companies with two from local planning companies.
The master plans are available for the public to view and vote at www.riveroflife.com.my -- from today until July 28.
A panel of expert jurors have also been appointed to assess the plans. The winning plan will be based on a combination of votes from the public (20 per cent) and the jurors (80 per cent).