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The first phase of revitalization and beautification of Sungai Segget project in the Johor Baru city centre which is causing traffic jams and affecting business to operators, motorists and workers nearby is expected to complete end of this year. Pix by Najiha Najib

JOHOR BARU: The first phase of the Sungai Segget rejuvenation project comprising two packages is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim urged the public to bear with the inconveniences for now.

"The Sungai Segget rejuvenation and upgrading works is part of Johor Baru City Transformation Plan, which is one of the five flagship projects under the long-term Johor Baru Transformation Plan," Ismail said.

"The river cleaning and flood mitigation which is under Package 1 and Package 2 of the first phase should be ready, hopefully by the fourth quarter of the year.

"Following the completion of the river cleaning and flood mitigation will be the landscaping works which will take a few more months," said Ismail after the launch of the third Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA), an annual event to give recognition to the unsung heroes who have contributed to the local community.

Traders and workers in the city centre have been affected by the ongoing works to re-open Sungai Segget, which is part of the river's rejuvenation project.

The works has reduced the four-lane main thoroughfare of Jalan Wong Ah Fook into a one-lane street.

Sundry shop owner Heng Siew Hoon, 57, said her business dropped by 50 per cent since the works began two years ago.

"Luckily, I still have food operators in the vicinity who walk to the shop to get their supplies from me. If not, my shop would have to close down.

"Many customers do not come to the shop any more because they cannot find any nearby parking," Heng said, when interviewed by the New Straits Times.

S. Pranay, 39, who works in one of the shopping malls nearby, said he faced difficulty getting a taxi to work.

"A taxi driver once told me he tries to avoid using Jalan Wong Ah Fook since the four-lane road was reduced to a single lane. I don't drive. The lack of taxis plying the route has forced me to car pool or take a bus," Pranay said.

Package 1 of the Sungai Segget rejuvenation project, which comprised river cleaning and construction of an underground sewage treatment plant, was initially slated for completion by the end of 2015. Package 2 involved flood mitigation and beautification project.

IRDA was tasked with the RM220 million project to carry out the works.

It was delayed due to a design change and site coordination issues, and was supposed to have been completed this month.

However, IRDA advisory council member Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad later said the project will only be fully completed by 2017.

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