Malaysiakini Letter

Chronic traffic jams in Cameron Highlands

Chiong Yoke Kong  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | The four-day holiday ending today has resulted in chronic traffic jams in Cameron Highlands.

From morning till night, tourists flock to the famous tourist attraction by cars from Ringlet to Blue Valley, making the traffic in Cameron Highlands’s traffic completely paralysed.

A short distance of two to three kilometres would require one three to four hours to reach the destination.

In order to solve the traffic woes in Cameron Highlands, it is imperative to find the crux of the problem. Cameron Highlands is a popular hill resort and tourist attraction in Malaysia, but is also recently being troubled by heavy traffic jams due to three main reasons:

  1. Three extra main roads connecting Cameron Highlands have been built in 20 years, namely Jalan Ringlet-Sungai Koyan that connects Raub, Ringlet and Sungai Koyan, Jalan Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands and Jalan Gua Musang-Cameron Highlands. These roads have made it very convenient for tourists to come to Cameron Highlands from the West Coast, East Coast and Pahang, hence the substantial increase in the number of tourists throughout the 20 years, which is evident by the statistics in 2017 that has recorded 750,000 tourists in 2017;
     
  2. Based on traffic reports by many traffic apps, an average of more than 10,000 cars are recorded coming to Cameron Highlands every day during long holidays. Although there are four roads connecting each entrance of Cameron Highlands that receive tourists around the country, only one main road is available inside the Cameron Highlands area. Besides that, this district does not have enough parking lots and thus is unable to support 10,000 cars; and
     
  3. The unplanned and disorganised development by the state and local government have created several traffic bottlenecks in Cameron Highlands. Therefore, the influx of tourists’ vehicles will further paralyse the traffic. Furthermore, the local government, which rarely enforces the law against vendors and tourists who park their cars at the roadsides, has also contributed to the problem.

Although many parties have given suggestions, such as increasing parking lots, widening the roads and taking action against vendors and car owners who go against the law, reviewing the town planning for businesses as well as building an outer ring road, the traffic woes in Cameron Highlands are actually a mix of many problems.

Choosing any of the abovementioned options instead of implementing comprehensive solutions together can never resolve the matter once and for all. Not only that, the problem cannot be fixed, public discontent may also arise, as evident by the one-way traffic rule in Brinchang.

Traffic jams in Cameron Highlands can be classified into two categories, based on the severity: Partial traffic jams in Kea Farm, Brinchang and Tanah Rata during normal weekends, as well as complete traffic congestion during school holidays and long weekends.

Restricting the influx of vehicles

In order to resolve the matter for good and all, the local government must start studying public transport policy, enforce traffic laws and restrict the influx of vehicles during holidays.

Restricting the influx of vehicles into tourist attractions is a common traffic control measure in many countries. Many tourist attractions in China have started to implement traffic categories classification and feeder service to lead tourists’ vehicles to their connected parking spots. This will help control the traffic that is chaotic, greatly reduce the disturbance to local residents, protect the natural tourist attractions and ultimately, provide satisfying user experience to tourists.

The Cameron Highlands District Council can utilise the entrances at Blue Valley and Ringlet, and can even cooperate with the Perak state government to build parking lots at Tapah and Simpang Pulai which are at the foothills, in order to implement vehicle restrictions and provide feeder services, such as providing small buses to bring the tourists to Cameron Highlands.

Vehicle restrictions might temporarily affect the tourist sector, but leaving the traffic problem unresolved will only further increase public discontent and tarnish the image of Cameron Highlands as a popular tourist attraction.

Cameron Highlands is, after all, different from other tourist attractions as there are a lot of local residents living in the area. We should not sit back and only hastily look for solutions when an untoward incident happens, such as the delayed emergency assistance that happens due to traffic woes.

We have to look at the traffic woes in Cameron Highlands in a rational and objective way. As the local state assemblyperson, I promise to be the “bridge” between the federal and state governments, and will work proactively with every relevant agency in order to look for a better and more comprehensive traffic solution that will ultimately resolve the matter of traffic woes in Cameron Highlands, once and for all.


CHIONG YOKE KONG is the state assemblyperson for Tanah Rata (Pahang) and DAP Youth National Political Education director.

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