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COMMENT:

ON normal days, driving around Kuala Lumpur during rush hour traffic is already a dreadful experience on its own, so is it really necessary to host events that create even more delays and worsen gridlocks in the city?

The roads in the city centre are abuzz with the inaugural KL City Grand Prix, which is touted as first-ever street race to be held in the capital, but despite the hype generated, the excitement was clearly not shared by all.

As predicted, netizens took to social media to voice their ire over the “inconveniences” face by city dwellers in the lead up to the event.

They groused over busy main arteries, including Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Raja Abdullah, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Dang Wangi, and Jalan P. Ramlee, being cordoned off from Friday till Sunday during peak hours.

Yesterday (Saturday), the area faced a slew of traffic disruptions. Several schools were also said to have shut down for the day to make way for the maiden event’s practice session which was postponed to late afternoon after a downpour.

Those based in the hotpot had either braved the vehicle crawls or worked from home.

A developer had earlier claimed losses amounting to some RM300,000 over delays in a project due to a “moratorium” on roadworks imposed by City Hall after the makeshift track was resurfaced.

The race was also held alongside other major conferences such as other events like the International Youth Seminar at Hotel Renaissance, and the GLC Open Day 2015 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The chain of five-star hotels in the area were also made to provide alternative arrangements to handle their incoming and outgoing guests.

The grand prix was also taking place at the expense of weddings and other dinner functions in the vicinity.

Over the span of the three days, private vehicles and some modes of public transport faced traffic diversions.

The event also raised the poser on a “shut down” of the city following “warnings” in the media to avoid driving into the city this weekend.

It was understood that 50,000 vehicle-access passes were distributed to the area’s tenants.

The organiser, GT Global Race Sdn Bhd, said it had engaged the building owners and occupants several months in advance.

The race was tipped to create 750 jobs and generate RM750 million in economic spillover effect, coupled with the immense international media coverage.

However, the desired effect from the lofty and generous estimate, or how it would improve the lives of menial income earners — such as the average janitor or retail assistant in the area — remains to be seen.

One wonders, was all of this hassle to the people really worth the while? And did it involve public funds since public amenities such as road signage and dividers were dismantled to make way for the temporary tracks, barriers, and podiums?

Who is paying for the sidewalks and road islands that were damaged or removed to make way for chicanes and other temporary circuit facilities?

And who, may we ask, commissioned the road resurfacing along the tracks when other roads in the city were plagued with bumps, cracks and potholes?

Even without the race, the city’s inhabitants were already faced with traffic congestion, some lasting beyond midnight hours on some days due to the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.

Former F1 test driver Fairuz Fauzy, who was competing in the race, told an online daily that the organiser could have done a better job in avoiding hiccups, however adding it showed good promise for the next five years.

The public was also perplexed over the need to hold the race in the city’s Golden Triangle in years to come.

Where, they asked, did that put the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), which was costing millions in annual maintenance fees, then?

What blew the public gasket was not the daily bottlenecks and traffic jams that they have learned to live with, but the fact that the augmented congestion could have been avoided with better planning.

The huge number of red flags thrown up by the public renders it advisable for City Hall to hold public consultations before giving the event the green light again.

The tax-paying public also wants, and has the right, to know whether public funds were involved in the organising of the race, fearing that it may become yet another monumental failure.

Recent trends also indicate that people were more enthusiastic about taking part in events that they could be directly involved with, such as marathons and cycling events, instead of being mere spectators on the side lines.

If the government was serious about its belt-tightening in wake of the rakyat’s grouses on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and rising costs, it must lead by example in spending prudently.

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