Klang Sentral bus terminal.
KLANG: Barely a year after the controversial Klang Sentral bus terminal was opened, many retail outlets there are vacant as shopkeepers have packed up and left due to poor business and high rentals.
There are 38 retail outlets in Terminal A and of these, 11 outlets are vacant, with most retailers closing shop after only a few months.
The food court, or “food station”, which is located on the first floor of Terminal A, also closed down after operating for only seven months.
The food station operator was only given a day’s notice to vacate.
A notice dated July 24 last year, which was pasted on the main glass door by NPO Management, the operator of Klang Sentral bus terminal, stated that the food station would be closed the next day, July 25.
The notice stated that NPO Management had decided to close down the food station as the operator had refused to sign a tenancy agreement with them.
The notice added that NPO Management could not afford to suffer further financial losses.
Charmaine Lim, director of the Titijaya Group of Companies of which NPO Management is a subsidiary, said the company was considering other plans for the food station.
“We have other plans for the place allocated for the food court. We may not reopen the outlet for the sale of food and beverages but we are seriously considering other businesses so that the public can have a variety when they patronise these outlets,” she said.
Most of the traders at Terminal A complained that business was bad and it was hard for them to earn enough to pay for the rental of their outlets.
“Very few people patronise our shop which sells various kinds of souvenir items. We only see a crowd on weekends and public holidays,” said Mohd Izwan Marjan, 29, an employee at one of the outlets.
Izwan said the operator should lower the rentals as the outlets were finding it hard to make a profit, resulting in many of them being forced to close down.
Another retailer, who wished to remain anonymous, said although the operator had given some discounts in the rentals, they were not enough.
“There is insufficient business. The operator should reduce the rental. They can always review it when more passengers make use of the terminal and there is more business for us,” he said.
He is also unhappy as traders near the passengers waiting area are now selling the same type of food and drinks although they were earlier told that each trader would only sell a particular type of food or drink.
Lim, meanwhile, said the management empathised with the plight of the retailers and had reduced the rental by 40 per cent.
“When the number of passengers at the terminal picks up, the traders should be able to overcome their problems,” she said.
[TRANSIT: And what plans exist to make this happen? Using the 'power' of the CVLB?]
The RM12 million Klang Sentral complex in Jalan Meru is located 10km away from Klang town.
It is a build-operate-transfer project and the developer was given a 30-year concession to operate the bus and taxi terminals after which it will be handed over to the Klang Municipal Council.
It is part of a RM300 million commercial hub developed by NPO Development on a 33.2ha freehold land.
The little-used Klang Sentral opened its doors in November 2008 and has been the subject of controversy as many residents in Klang complained it was too far from the town centre.
Most bus operators have refused to use Klang Sentral because of its poor location and the lack of passengers. Many said the location of the terminal had added to their operational costs.
What is truly sad here is that no one is coming up with any solutions to improve the current situation. The customers are in Klang, specifically in North Klang, not Bandar Meru Raya (which is where Klang Sentral is).
Even the massive congestion in the town because of the construction of the flyover has not deterred the bus companies or the customers.
It is truly sad that no one in the government has come up with any solutions for the Klang Sentral problem. Where is the NKRA in the face of this sad and disappointing example of how not to plan public transport?
TRANSIT has suggested that a bus-rapid transit (BRT) system be introduced to Klang, with a north-south corridor that would quickly link Klang town to Klang Sentral in the north and Bukit Tinggi in the south, with 3 east-west corridors linking Klang to KL (along the NKVE, Federal Highway and KESAS).
Implementing the BRT for Klang would bring life back to Klang Sentral, turning it into a popular hub for intercity express buses and rural mini-buses and outstation taxies.
But if the governments do not start working together, Klang Sentral will become a permanent white elephant and the traders will lose the most.