THE state government’s recent announcement of the true function of Gerbang Malam’s new road surface has received mixed responses from traders and pedestrians there.
It was recently revealed by State Women, Family and Community Welfare Development, Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Rusnah Kass im that the new road surface was built using cobblestone pavers joined with cement.
The surface is supposed to slow motorists in the area for the safety of pedestrians, especially in the day time when vehicles are allowed to pass through the area.
While some traders were able to see and accept the state authorities’ rationale on the matter, there are others who are saying that the new road surface does not make that much of a difference in reducing the speed of vehicles.
Part-time promoter Lim Pui Ting, 17, said the newly paved road surface, which is rough and uneven by design, has its pros and cons.
“If this means that cars slow down here when there’s usually a lot of people walking around, it is a good thing.
“I think it’s been pretty effective so far. Before the resurfacing, my mother used to always warn me to be cautious when crossing the road here because the cars here tend to drive fast.
“After the road was paved, I don’t hear her saying this to me anymore,” she told MetroPerak.
But at the same time, Pui Ting said the surface would surely be more uncomfortable for pedestrians, especially women who wear high heels.
“They could easily trip and lose their balance if they’re not careful,” she said.
During the State Assembly sitting last month, Rusnah explained that the road surface was also chosen to match some of the pre-World War II architecture in the area.
She also said the surface will eventually become more even as time passes and more vehicles go over it.
Earlier this year, MetroPerak reported that complaints about the road’s unevenness have been emerging after the stretch of Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar, which hosts the popular Gerbang Malam night bazaar and some of the city’s most famous food outlets, was reopened in March.
After enduring months of delays in the upgrading of the road, some people complained that the rough road surface is now a tripping hazard, especially for senior citizens and children.
Trader Chin Yew Wai, 40, said he agrees with the rationale provided by the state regarding the rough surface of the road.
“It was a tough waiting period of eight months back when they were resurfacing the road.
“At first I’m not too happy with the uneven road surface, but if it is meant to serve the purpose of slowing down drivers here, I think it is the right thing to do,” he said.
Chin said during peak periods, there can be a very high number of pedestrians walking around the area to explore the array of outlets here.
“If the rough is rough it discourages motorists from going too fast,” he said.
However, Johnson Sia, a 27-year-old trader, said he would prefer the road to be smoother than it currently is.
“It is just not convenient to walk on when you feel how rough and uneven the surface is under your shoes.
“I’m also worried that the surface will wear out and scuff my shoes.
“Additionally, it is also not convenient for those who are wheelchair-bound. I have seen people in wheelchairs, mostly old folk, come into the area before,” he said.
Sia also said, based on his observations, he does not see much of a difference in terms of the people’s driving speeds.
“People still drive as they please. But most of them would also already know it’s a populated area here so they can’t drive as fast,” he said.
Another trader, who wants to be known only as Yap, in her 40s, said no matter the reason given, the rough road surface is just not convenient for many.
“It’s not only a problem for women who wear high heels, but also for drivers like me.
“Whenever I drive over the road, I feel so worried how the rough surface damages my tyres,” she said.
Asked if she hopes that road should be resurfaced yet again, Yap said it is not necessary because the present state of matters is not intolerable.
“I certainly can’t expect them to smoothen the road again. It costs too much money and at the same time, it would hamper businesses around here again,” she said.
Promoter Chin Lai Wan, 40, said she does not see many drivers slow down in the area, even with the new rough road surface.
“It’s just not nice to walk on. Even if they were to change it, it’s troublesome to close the road again, not to mention costly.
“I’m not sure what we can do about it anymore. We’ll just have to accept the current road condition as it is,” she said.