Latest initiatives at Iskandar Malaysia shared in the run-up to City Expo Malaysia at “Star Talk” series
PETALING JAYA: City planning is an important aspect that has been looked into by Iskandar Malaysia as it seeks to tackle urban issues ranging from the lack of sustainable mobility to economic imbalance. According to the master planner of Iskandar Malaysia – the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) – led by Datuk TPr Ismail Ibrahim as Chief Executive, Iskandar Malaysia’s total cumulative recorded investment reached RM341.4 billion since 2006, with 61% of this has been realised.
Cover-pix: Datuk TPr Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA)
In his talk at the City Expo Malaysia’s Star Talk series here on Thursday (Aug 19), Ismail said IRDA’s planning is aligned with the need to support national goals, especially in pushing for sustainable mobility. “Connectivity is one of the major aspects that needs to be improved so that goods and people will be able to move seamlessly, which then would be able to create an ecosystem to attract the right and impactful investment,” he said. Ismail said in creating a good metropolis, the importance of connectivity is of paramount importance, with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT or imbrt.com.my) system being one of the smart mobility initiatives rolled out by IRDA. He adds that since the inception of Iskandar Malaysia, the coverage of public transport is less than 35% of geographical area, and the goal is to increase the coverage to about 90%.
The way to move forward from looking at developed nations and modern cities around the globe is by using public transportation. “BRT would be the game changer. We are looking to shift the ratio (of trips using private vs public transport) from 85:15 to 70:30 or 50:50 through the BRT completion (expected by 2023),” said Ismail, who added the buses will also be fully electric to further lower their carbon footprint. The system covers a total of 2,043km with three main lines, namely Iskandar Puteri, Skudai and Tebrau, with 44 direct routes and 55 feeder routes.
IRDA is also in talks with Johor Bahru City Council and Iskandar Puteri City Council about proposals to improve the commuting experience, such as providing sheltered walkways, wheelchair-friendly sidewalks, and ensuring well-lit places leading to the bus shelters. The project is a strategic national initiative to develop a reliable and convenient bus transit system to improve accessibility and enhance the quality of life of the communities in Iskandar Malaysia. It is Malaysia’s first comprehensive state-level implementation of a BRT system in the country and will serve as a backbone of the public transportation infrastructure in Iskandar Malaysia.
IRDA is also working with the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia to incorporate rubber as part of the mix for paving roads in fulfillment of its goal as a low carbon city. Besides the new areas, IRDA is working on promoting modern farming by embracing state-of-the-art ttechnology that generates a smaller footprint by drawing upon success stories from Holland, South Korea, and Japan. Learning from these countries, Malaysia would be able to continue to look at food security from another perspective. With the Covid-19 pandemic it has impacted the space designs and there will be a need of intervention to relook at how they should consider designing spaces post pandemic. Ismail addressed this issue by stating that they have to start looking at the changing patterns of consumers and adapt accordingly or we won’t be able to stay competitive.
This relates to how we progress and think on the lifestyle of the future consumer. For example, in the past we had emphasis on the separation of work and residential space but with the given environment we will have to innovate to the consumer needs accordingly. City Expo Malaysia will continue to hold Star Talk Series over the coming weeks, touching on topics based on the 16 urbanism themes that will be explored at the Expo ranging from mixed-use development, smart cities, placemaking, walkable cities and many more. City Expo Malaysia is the first virtual expo on city planning and development.