Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Puduraya...oops...Pudu Sentral revisited

*********************** In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessing and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w ********************** Reflection *********************** Every self will taste death. You would be paid your wages in full on the Day of Rising. Anyone who is distanced from the Fire and admitted to the Garden has triumphed. The life of this world is just the enjoyment of delusion. - Qur'an, 3:185 ************************* AFTER the closure of' 'Hentian' (Terminal) Puduraya in March 2010 for upgrading and renovation work, I have not been there since. ************************* When it was reopened in April 2011, it was unnessary for me to go there since all buses going to my destination (to south of KL) are now stationed in 'Terminal Bersepadu Selatan' (TBS) in Bandar Tasik Selatan which was opened last March. Nowadays Puduraya only caters for north bound buses and buses to Seremban. ************************** So my daily journey to and fro Melaka and Kuala Lumpur only revolves around Melaka Sentral, TBS and the Titiwangsa LRT station. Puduraya is not on the list of stopovers; but while on the LRT, I still can have a look at the Puduraya building and abandoned Plaza Rakyat construction site, located next to the bus terminal. Nothing has changed at the construction site of Plaza Rakyat, concrete pillars and iron rods are left rusting away, perhaps its ground are dotted with a few puddles of black dirty water which have become breeding areas for mosquitoes. ************************ Looking at the Puduraya terminal from the train, evokes memories of yesteryears of 1970s and 1980s. It was Puduraya that I frequented during my college and university days to catch buses to my home state, especially during term breaks. Nowadays, the huge wording 'Hentian Puduraya' placed on the wall of the fourth floor is nowhere to be seen; but anyway, the wording would be Pudu Sentral and not Puduraya. **************************** The name Pudu Sentral was requested by Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Razak when he revisted the newly renovated terminal a few days before the last Hari Raya (August 2011). It was due to the PM's maiden visit to Puduraya in the middle of 2009 that saw the relevant authoities especially Urban Development Authority (UDA) through its subsidiary, UDA Holdings Berhad, who owns and manages the terminal, worked tirelessly to upgrade it and provide more comfort to travellers. The total costs of the upgrading work was RM52 million; the works divided into three phase; the first of the upgrading involving a new waiting area on the first floor and a passage from the Plaza Rakyat LRT station that costs RM4.5 million. ****************************** The second phase of upgrading works such as erecting ticket counters on the first floor; pedestrian paths; a food court on the rooftop; and rebuild of the ventilation system in the basement costs about RM32 million and rest of the money was allocated for the third phase which involved mechanical and electrical works including upgrading the waiting area in the basement and the mezzanine floor; several new escalators, more people and goods lifts; as well as upgrading of the basement. *************************** Recently I took my time to visit Puduraya...oops...Pudu Sentral. I entered the terminal via the entrance from the LRT station; the passage to the station was not impressive, it was the same old one that I had often used before Puduraya was closed in March 2010. Except for the floors of the five meters breadth pathway between Puduraya and covered walkway to LRT station which was newly tiled and gleaming; the rest of the infrastructure there were the same old thing. **************************** But inside Pudu Sentral, I noticed a lot of changes. Ticket booths are nowhere to be seen when one enters its gate from the LRT Station. Instead there are few mini shop lots there; and as I passed one of them, a middle aged lady greeted me and after a brief introduction, she said she had not seen me for a long time. ****************************** Yes, during ‘the era’ of old Puduraya, I was a regular customerto her stall, it was of a great feeling she still recognized me. She told me her business of tidbits such as sweets and crackers, newspapers and magazine was ready bad as the volume of patrons at Pudu Sentral was not even half of that during the ‘glorious days’ of yesteryears. ********************************* "You know this station only caters for passengers to the North; we do not have a large crowd. Business is bad, and another bad news is that the rental of my stall is RM1,500 per month compared to only RM1,000 during the time of old Pudutaya," she said. ***************************** She admitted she had not paid the rental for a few months now and hoped the relevant authorities could find solution for the stall owners’ woes. **************************** Her neighbor who is operating a luggage keeping business said, the rent of her premises was RM2,000 per month; and judging from the money collected for the few months since Pudu Sentral was reopened, she was afraid she could not effort to continue her business. ****************************** As I walked further on the same floor, I saw rows of glass cubicles that covered entrances of staircases to the platform area where passengers alighted or boarded buses. Perhaps there were 20 of them. Each cubicle has a sliding door; when a passenger wants to go down the stairs, he or she presses a button and the door would open and then close back. In this way, the waiting area at Level One would be free of fumes from the platform areas. ********************************** I then walked to furthest end of Pudu Sentral to observe the ‘former’ bottleneck situation; that was the chaotic area when the buses enter the parking area at the basement. The road leading to the parking area only allows one bus to enter at a time. ********************************** Previously the stretch was very chaotic; tens of buses had to wait for their turn to enter the terminal. Sometimes, passengers had to embark one kilometer away from the station and walk all the way to the terminal. ********************************** During my recent visit, I found that the ‘bottleneck; had not changed much; only one bus could enter the terminal at a time but the turning area and passage for the buses had been widened and this contributed to easy and fast parking of the buses. ********************************** As the number of buses now are less than before the renovation of Puduraya, perhaps the chaotic situation at the entrance is now a thing of past. After observing the basement area for a few minutes, I walked up the staircase to the waiting area at Level One. Pudu Sentral now boasts ample seating and waiting space; rows and rows of gleaming new aluminium seats can be seen. ************************************** I then used an escalator to go to the ‘surau’ (small masjid) at Level Three for ‘maghrib’ (dusk) prayers. The 'surau' was quite big and fully air-conditioned. I thought the ‘surau’ could easily accomodate 300 ‘jemaah’ (congregators). I was informed Friday prayers are also held at this ‘surau’. *************************************** I also visited the food court on the rooftop. There were different sections for Muslims and non Muslims stalls. Not many patrons realize that there is a food court in Pudu Sentral and furthermore it is on an isolated level, so some stall owners business face difficulties in sustaining their businesses.

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