WELL Kuching city’s iconic India Street will soon undergo a massive change as an RM1 million roofing project is planned to cover the pedestrian mall.
The street with a history going back almost two centuries will be given the chance to evolve yet again.
In the past it was known mainly for textiles. While the textile shops are still there, the street is also known for bargain ready to wear clothing as well as daily essentials.
Despite the abundance of modern shopping malls in the city, India Street still has a special place in my heart and judging by the crowds on weekends, many of us still can’t resist the street’s charms.
News of the million ringgit roof made me think of Bugis Street in Singapore.
There you can shop in air-conditioned comfort with the illusion of being outdoors when you’re actually under a roofed area.
In our tropical city, rainy weather usually means fewer customers for older shops such as those on India Street.
The benefit of malls such as The Spring and Boulevard is that shoppers still have somewhere to go during a torrential downpour!
You would most likely cancel a trip to India Street, however, even if there’s a drizzle or if the heat is too intolerable that day
Having a roof over the mall would definitely make shopping more comfortable.
The fact that Merdeka Plaza will be opening in the near future right next door is also a positive development for the area.
In the evening and at night India Street and the surrounding areas are rather quiet. While some may still patronise the Open Air Market, there really is no other reason to be in the area later in the evening.
Having the mall, which is likely to open till at least 10pm, would mean new business opportunities in the area for eateries and cafes, as well as for the established businesses to extend their hours.
Having a roof would mean India Street would almost be an extension of the new Merdeka Plaza, and it would also open up a host of opportunities for the Sarawak Tourism Complex and businesses facing the new section of the Kuching Waterfront.
It would indeed bring much life back to this section of the city for residents as well as enable visitors to experience this historic part of the city at night.
Without such developments, these historic areas would sadly fade further and further into oblivion.
Thanks to farsighted planning, these iconic areas which are so much a part of our city’s soul, will continue to evolve and thrive in future.
Great stuff. Real transformation and not just passing change.
How the Star reported it:
RM1mil to turn India Street into a ‘house within a house’
By RINTOS MAIL
KUCHING: India Street, set up in late 1840s, is ready to embrace a facelift for a better tomorrow.
The facelift will involve keeping all the shophouses and the street itself under a shelter.
India Street Pedestrian Mall Committee chairman Datuk Wee Hong Seng said the proposed facelift had been agreed to by 95% of the shop owners and was waiting for Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib’s approval.
He believed the facelift would benefit not only shoppers, but also the traders who were the long-term stakeholders.
He said keeping the street under a shelter was important to ensure that shopping could go on uninterrupted whether in rain or shine.
“Currently, our livelihood is linked to the weather pattern.
“Each time it rains, we know that our income for that day will be below normal as it is a deterrent for tourists and local customers,” he said at the India Street Pedestrian Mall 20th and India Street 195th anniversary dinner here Tuesday.
According to Wee, the proposed facelift was deemed necessary as more locals and tourists would be coming to the area soon after the completion of Plaza Merdeka shopping mall by November.
He said the proposed hotel would follow suit in 2013 while the renovation and upgrading works of the Open Air Market could commence soon.
“We (residents and stakeholders) will cooperate and unite among ourselves to support the projects (in and around the area) because we believe we will have a brighter prospect for progress and prosperity,” he said.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib had approved the shelter project and yesterday announced an allocation of RM1mil for the Kuching City North Commission to begin work.
Efforts to transform India Street to a pedestrian shopping mall were realised in 1992, making the mall the first of its kind in Malaysia.
India Street has a long and unique historical heritage and enjoys the benefit of being a special tourist attraction for both local and foreign visitors.
The New Straits Times report:
A RM1m roof over India Street
By LIAN CHENG
KUCHING: TWENTY years ago, India Street, during its heyday was home to Indian textile merchants and was converted into a pedestrian mall.
Soon, the 165-year-old heritage street will be turned into a covered pedestrian mall.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has announced RM1 million for the conversion.
Taib said the roof over the mall would make shopping in one of the most popular shopping malls in the city even more conducive.
While giving businesses there a helping hand, Taib, at the same time, has also thrown a challenge to the business operators in the mall.
“Show me how you plan to lure our young people to this part of the city and patronise your businesses.
“You cannot stay stagnant with your current business model and depend on the old customers for business,” said Taib at the anniversary dinner of India Street’s 165th and India Street pedestrian mall’s 20th anniversary dinner.
Taib said young consumers shied away from shops in the old parts of the city because of their changing tastes and lifestyle.
He was referring to not only India Sreet, but also adjacent areas like Carpenter Street, which, in the old days, housed carpenters and furniture makers, Gambir Street where the spice traders are, and Jalan Khoo Hun Yeang and Chia Street where most of the city’s photo studios used to be.
Taib said he gave approval for a modern shopping mall to be built nearby at Jalan Barrack — the Merdeka Plaza — to draw city folk back to that part of the city.
“The mall (plaza) will attract both young shoppers and tourists alike who we hope would start to frequent the old shops.”
Taib also said that the government’s recent city redevelopment plan would beautify the old Kuching. This included shifting the fish and vegetable markets and demolishing the unsightly markets to “create a scenic river view”.
“It is also to give city folk a place to have an enjoyable stroll by the Sarawak River.
“You must try to think very deeply (of the challenge).”