FOCUS: West Coast Expressway to spur growth from Taiping to Banting

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GROWTH: WCE to enhance real estate, industrial and tourism sectors in west coast of Selangor and Perak

Controversy aside, the long-delayed RM7.07 billion West Coast Expressway (WCE) to be constructed by West Coast Expressway Sdn Bhd (WCE Sdn Bhd), is expected to stimulate growth in areas stretching from Taiping to Banting on the west coast of Perak and Selangor. Beneficiaries include several sectors such as real estate, industrial and tourism, in areas such as Lenggong, Taiping and Pangkor in Perak; and Banting and Sepang in Selangor.

According to recent reports, Kumpulan Europlus Bhd (KEuro) is in the final round of discussions with the authorities to build the WCE and it expects to ink the concession agreement in two months. KEuro chairman Datuk Abdul Hamid Mustapha had told reporters after the group AGM recently that construction, expected to take about five years to complete, would start in the second quarter of next year after the fund-raising exercise was completed.

Reports say that the 316 km highway, a joint-venture between KEuro and IJM Corp through WCE Sdn Bhd, will be built based on the build-operate- transfer concept with a concession period of 60 years. About 92 km are expected to be toll free.

Opening up sluggish areas: The alignment of the WCE, based on a CIMB report dated 19th April 2012, will establish a direct link between Klang and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via Banting. On a logistics
standpoint, this would be favourable for industrial areas located between the two international ports such as Shah Alam and Banting as the WCE will provide easy accessibility thus increasing
economic and industrial activity, enabling these areas to thrive.

Southern Selangor, in particular, the districts of Banting and Sepang, is already experiencing a significant amount of real estate development from established developers.

Accelerating growth in Sepang: Sepang is already home to KLIA, Malaysia‘s international gateway, and the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia‘s top destination for international motorsports
events. Given its strategic location, it is no surprise that it is attracting interest from developers such as Glomac Berhad and GuocoLand (Malaysia) Berhad.

For example, according to a TA Research report, Glomac had recently acquired a piece of agricultural land in Sepang, Selangor, measuring 191.75 acres for RM66.8 million, which is intended for the development of a mixed residential development, which will provide affordable housing.

Another major development in Sepang is GuocoLand‘s Sepang International City (SIC) with a Gross Development Value (GDV) of RM48 billion. According to media reports, the proposed project would span about 4,000 acres in the southern corridor of Selangor and would be developed over 18 phases, with full completion of the project expected to take 15 to 20 years.

GuocoLand had said in a statement that the seafront development will include commercial, business, residential and leisure developments, a hub for institutions of higher learning and a large world-class urban park that will be modelled after the Central Park in New York City.

SIC would serve as the catalyst for the growth and future development of Sepang and its surrounding areas, GuocoLand managing director Yeow Wai Siaw was quoted to have said.

Awakening Banting: Located on the banks of Sungai Langat, this idyllic town of almost 50,000 population, continues to charm with its rural communities, hills, forests, beaches, farms and relaxed lifestyle. Essentially an agricultural hub centred around oil palm plantations and poultry farms, it nevertheless has several small industrial zones.

It attracts a fair number of tourists, heading towards Dong Zen Fo Guang Shan Temple located in neighbouring Jenjarom district while the sandy Morib beaches and Gold Coast attract many locals during weekends.

The proposed West Coast Expressway, with its southern tip ending at Banting, will breathe new life and dynamism into the community. New townships such as the Lion Group‘s Bandar Mahkota Banting; and Bandar Rimbayu, a joint venture township development between IJM Land and KEuro will add to the population numbers.

The RM11 billion Rimbayu is expected to be aligned next to the WCE. The township focuses on sustainable lifestyles, and will likely be one of the country’s largest green townships.

The 1,879-acre township is divided into four precincts, consisting of the residential Flora and Fauna; Bayu, a 280-acre high-end waterfront residential development by the lakeside; and the commercial hub, which includes a canal, town square and service apartments.

Bandar Rimbayu is targeted for completion within 15 years and will boast about 10,000 residential units. The launch of its maiden product – The Chimes, consisting of 526 units of link homes, is targeted for the second half of this year.
Its location is strategic, as it is merely 2.9 km from Kota Kemuning, and is bounded by four highways, the Expressway Lingkaran Tengah (ELITE), KESAS (Lebuhraya Shah Alam), SKVE (South Klang Valley Expressway) and the proposed WCE.

According to mapmaker Ho Chin Soon, Bandar Rimbayu is in the first tier of his “locational centre of gravity for Greater Kuala Lumpur”, a 25km circle centred around the Kinrara Army Camp in Puchong. “Since the whole project fronts the South Klang Valley Expressway, accessibility is not an issue. The location is good,” he remarks.

Enhancing Perak‘s tourism sector: Selangor isn‘t the only beneficiary from the highway development as WCE Sdn Bhd plans to continue building the Perak portion after completing it in Selangor.

The WCE is expected to accelerate the development of Perak‘s tourism sector, especially in the northern, north-western and western region, covering Lenggong, Taiping and Pangkor with enhanced accessibility to these areas.

This is in addition to Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak‘s Budget 2012 announcement, that the government has made a RM978 million allocation to accelerate the development of five regional corridors, one of which includes heritage tourism development in Taiping in the Northern Corridor.

The WCE will make travelling to Pangkor‘s sandy beaches a breeze, and the beneficiaries of this development would include its hotels and resorts, such as YTL Hotels’ internationally renowned Pangkor Laut Resort.

Furthermore, the archaeological heritage of Lenggong Valley, in upper Perak, which has been declared recently as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the earliest human skeletal remains in the peninsula, the 11,000 year-old Perak man was found in 1991, has now put it in the international tourism map.

In summary, despite the many reservations about the expressway, there will definitely be positive spill-overs including enhanced accessibility to a major tourism region in Perak that is formed by Lenggong, Taiping and Pangkor; as well as generally spurring growth in real estate, industrial, and tourism in the west coast of Perak and Selangor.

Dong Zen Fo Guang Shan draws many tourists every year during Chinese New Year .

Pangkor Laut Resort stands to benefit from enhanced accessibility to Pangkor.


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