: The Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) is optimistic that Kota Kinabalu will become a livable city by 2022.
Two master plans, namely the Kota Kinabalu Public Transport Master Plan and the Traffic Improvement and Urban Transport Master Plan for Kota Kinabalu Central Business District (CBD), will help make it possible.
It includes providing a more systematic and efficient public transport system which begins from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), apart from ensuring smooth traffic flow.
DBKK's Traffic and Public Transport Department director Kalvin Liaw said both plans aimed to improve the city's image, which is the centre of attraction for local and foreign tourists, as a first-class city. UPGRADING, IMPROVING PUBLIC BUSES
Kalvin said the first phase of the Kota Kinabalu Public Transport Master Plan, which was outlined in 2012, would focus on upgrading and improving the public bus system.
The plan covers upgrading the route and bus schedules, besides creating an integrated public transport from one integrated terminal.
The move was part of the efforts to create a public transport system that is reliable, safe and secure.
"We want a more comprehensive public transport network system and coverage that is easily accessible to residents, without bus operators needing to choose profitable routes only," he added.
Therefore, an integrated bus terminal is a main component that needs to be completed first as Kota Kinabalu does not yet have an infrastructure that can connect intercity and city buses.
On bus schedule coordination, Kalvin did not deny the city council would face difficulty in terms of enforcement because it involved about 789 bus operators operating in the city area.
Furthermore, the role of coordination and enforcement of the bus schedule is under the jurisdiction of the Sabah Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (LPKP), he pointed out.
However, Kalvin hoped all bus companies would be open to the proposed changes and follow procedures so as to provide the best service to city folks. CONSTRUCTION OF FOUR MAIN TERMINALS
Meanwhile, Kalvin said four main terminals were listed under the Kota Kinabalu Public Transport Master Plan, namely the Wawasan Terminal, Inanam Terminal, Selatan Terminal and Penampang Terminal.
They will feature an integrated bus terminal concept for public transport connecting Kota Kinabalu to other districts with smoother, timely and enjoyable service for users.
Besides being user-friendly and safe, the integrated bus terminal will also include other public transport facilities such as taxis, parking lots and facilities for commercial activities.
All bus services from the North Zone will terminate at the Inanam Terminal; buses from Lawas-Menumbuk-Sipitang will end at the South Zone; while services from Tambunan-Keningau-Tenom stop at the Penampang Terminal.
Bus services within the city will go through the four terminal including other areas such as Likas, Kepayan and Kolombong to make it easy for users to get buses according to schedule.
According to Kalvin, the Wawasan Terminal developed with the cooperation of the private sector is under construction while the Inanam Terminal would be upgraded with more modern elements. The Selatan Terminal was proposed for construction near KKIA.
Kalvin hoped for a paradigm shift among bus operators in order to improve their services to be at par with bus services at the four terminals.
"Once the terminal is ready, only then we will arrange the buses," he added. RAPID TRANSIT BUS
Kalvin said based on DBKK's public transport master plan, a Rapid Transit Bus (BRT) will be developed and the project implementation will be handled by Prasarana Malaysia Berhad.
The construction of the Southern Integrated Terminal near KKIA, he said, comprising the development of BRT services, would be carried out with the implementation of the BRT.
Through the BRT system, bus services will apply dedicated lanes and the first phase will operate from Selatan Terminal-City Centre-Inanam Terminal.
The project is expected to be completed and begin operating at least by 2022, he added.
"Proposal papers have been submitted to the federal government and also brought to the attention of the state government. We are now just waiting for a decision on implementation," he explained.
Kalvin hoped that the construction work could start next year and completed on schedule, subject to funds allocated. He also hoped that all parties would support the plans. EARLY PLANNING FOR HIGH CAPACITY TRANSPORT
Apart from the BRT system, Kalvin also sees the need for plans towards creating a high capacity public transport such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT), Monorail or Tram in the city.
Meanwhile, he said high capacity transport facilities need to be planned early as the population is growing.
"Looking in terms of population, maybe we have not reached (the capacity to allow LRT and Monorail) but five years from now we will have the sufficient.
"We don't want to wait five more years to say that high capacity transport is suitable for Sabah. If we only build it 10 to 15 years from now, it may be too late," he added.
Kalvin said statistics from the Malaysian Statistics Department indicated the population of Greater Kota Kinabalu (including Kota Kinabalu, Tuaran, Penampang, Putatan and Papar) in 2000 was 686,474.
"The total population in Kota Kinabalu's metropolitan areas and neigbouring towns have increased to 855,556 in 2010," he stated.
Based on the average population growth of 2.5 percent, it is estimated that Greater KK will have a population of about 1.1 million by 2020. KOTA KINABALU CITY TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT MASTER PLAN
Commenting on the Traffic Improvement and Urban Transport Master Plan for Kota Kinabalu Central Business District (CBD), Kalvin said four main strategies would be utilised to improve the image and facilitate improvements in the city.
This includes designating one-way streets in the city as well as building a more conducive, comprehensive and safe pedestrian network for users.
"Besides that, creating a city public transport corridor is also among the essence in the plan, in addition to landscape that will beautify the city," he added.
Kalvin said DBKK was actively promoting non-motorised transport such as bicycles, whereby they have built an 11 kilometre bicycle track from Teluk Likas-Kota Kinabalu and Tangjung Aru-Kota Kinabalu, with plans to extend the network further. STATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Kalvin said the state government fully backed both master plans as it would be able to transform the city of Kota Kinabalu.
He said the state government yearned for upgraded city public transport and improved traffic flow in the central business district.
"We hope these efforts and plans will improve the road and public transport system in Sabah," he added. - BERNAMA