SMART was more grandiose than efficient

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Style over substance.

Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng labelled the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) as a failed project after Kuala Lumpur was again hit by floods. He said during a five-year period between October 2015 to September 2020, floods inundated various parts of the city 48 times.

As far back as 2011, the editorial of a local daily described the SMART Tunnel as the pride and joy of the authorities who have always touted it as the ultimate solution to the flood problems in Kuala Lumpur.

When the project was rushed to be opened in January 2007, we were all told that the floods that hit the city a few months earlier would be the last as the tunnel was the longest and biggest storm drain project in South-East Asia.

But after yet another flood, the daily published a report under the header “Kuala Lumpur’s SMART Tunnel not looking so smart anymore”. This prompted me to write “Elevated highway would have been better”, which was published on Dec 20, 2011.

I commented: “Instead of constructing a double-decker tunnel for traffic that has to be closed for draining flood water, the better option would have been building an elevated highway and a smaller drainage tunnel.”

“The overall cost would have been much less than the RM1.9 billion spent on SMART. Ironically, the tunnel is often closed to the public when it is needed most by motorists caught in chockablock traffic after heavy rain.”

“An elevated highway would have been the perfect conduit to channel such traffic. The maintenance cost would also be much lower than a state-of-the-art tunnel.”

But the powers that be preferred to be extravagant and spent much more on style over substance.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan from Kuala Lumpur.