The heavily polluted Danga River will be transformed into a major regional riverfront tourist destination in a project undertaken by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd.
The RM2.5 billion Phase 1 of The River City @ Danga Bay project aims to clean, beautify, revitalise and create a new riverfront city along both riverbanks of 6km portion of the 15km-long river, Iskandar Waterfront said in a statement today.
Iskandar Waterfront is a joint venture between Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor and businessman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo, who is also executive vice chairman of Iskandar Waterfront.
The massive development will have five primary components, to be called as such:
- The Venice: themed riverfront buildings with vibrant entertainment and shopping conveniences;
- The Gateway: where a new city downtown will be created;
- The Rivera: urban living by the river;
- The Bund: a new growth centre infused with historical and heritage elements; and
- The Fisherman’s Wharf: a place for festivals, parties and marine lifestyle.
“We will make Sungai Danga (Danga River) come alive with river cruises, boardwalks, street sculptures, lifestyle malls, food, entertainment and other water sports facilities under this development,” said Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin at today’s launch.
He said Phase 1 of the The River City project will cover 52 acres and cost a total of RM2.5 billion to develop.
Also included in the masterplan will be hotels, serviced apartments and office suites complemented with waterfront alfresco facilities, retail outlets, riverfront promenades, special lighting and a landscaped 6km-long boardwalk along the riverbank.
The highlight will be two man-made islands with thematic architectural features to showcase Malaysia’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity.
Lim said another two man-made islands will be added under Phase 2 of the development.
The River City plan will be the second most-expensive clean-up of a waterway river after the Malaysian government’s RM4 billion multi-year project to clean up the meandering Klang River in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
Last week, a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) board member Lawrence Wong gave this perspective in Singapore Parliament when he warned that a glut of private residences in Johor could cause a fall in property values.
Wong, also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth of the city state, said many Singaporeans have invested in the Iskandar Region.
In response, Mohamed Khaled said: “Singapore is always wary about their people coming here (Johor). Johor is more attractive because our cost of living is lower, so house prices in Johor is very affordable for a Singaporean.”
Across the Causeway, the clean-up of the Singapore River and Kallang Basin in 1997 resulted in the successful reinvigoration of what had once been the dirtiest waterways in the island republic.
The Singapore government not only breathed new life into the rivers, but also transformed them to become desired locations for waterfront housing, and entertainment and dining establishments.
Today, the river sparkles with life and exudes a vitality for the enjoyment of everyone.