By Ashwin Kumar
INFRASTRUCTURE plays an important role in rapid economic growth and the alleviation of poverty in a country.
Adequate infrastructure in the form of road and transport systems, power, airports and broadband networks is needed for the Malaysian economy to be on par with other economies of the world.
Selangor Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari had previously said that Selangor has good logistics infrastructure such as ports, airports and roads. He also said that an investment ecosystem is already in place in Selangor and these factors have attracted investors to the state.
Leveraging on its smart technology, innovations and solid infrastructure, Selangor now aspires to be Southeast Asia’s premier smart state by 2025.
Smart Digital Infrastructure is one of the 12 domains that will help the state achieve its goal, and Izham Hashim said the state administration’s commitment in this area is evident from the plans that have been outlined so far.
“Providing the best infrastructure is a very big task and it is not limited to only fixing potholes and maintaining the drainage system. The state government is always doing its best to offer the best infrastructure to its people. I can assure you that Selangor is moving in the right direction towards achieving its smart state status,” the Selangor Public Amenities, Agricultural Modernisation and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman told Selangor Journal in an exclusive interview recently.
Among the first significant achievements in realising the Selangor Smart State Vision 2025 was the introduction of the Smart Selangor Command Centre (SSCC), a centralised data collection and control room that plays a pivotal role in disaster monitoring in the state.
SSCC gathers and manages all data relating to any kind of disaster. All the data is then sent for further action to the state government or the National Disaster Management Agency.
Izham said the state government is also planning to introduce a monitoring centre to keep watch on agricultural activities, floods and road safety.
“The state is always seeking to leverage and experiment on the Internet of Things to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life for the people. We are experimenting with a monitoring centre equipped with a system that is capable of measuring vehicles travelling at a normal or reduced traffic speed that does not require them to come to a stop.
“The monitoring centre will also be equipped with high-resolution cameras to monitor floods, and artificial intelligence technology to aid in detecting diseases in plants, pests, and poor plant nutrition in farms,” he said.
The monitoring centre will enable better decision-making and improve efficiency in areas such as emergency assistance response.
Selangor Utility Corridor
The Selangor government will also be introducing its own Utility Corridor, designed to streamline all future utility infrastructure works.
Izham said the corridor will have a comprehensive database so that all maintenance and installation works can be carried out efficiently and in an organised manner.
“The main purpose of this initiative is to save cost, time and most importantly, to not cause inconvenience to the public.
“For example, when road repairs are needed, we have to block the road and remove the existing infrastructure until the work is completed and this is going to incur a big cost. The Utility Corridor can avoid such disruption by constantly monitoring and providing frequent maintenance.
“Communications amenities like fibre optics and telephone cables can also be installed in the Utility Corridor. It will allow works to be carried out quickly, saving time and cost, like how it is done in Japan. Utility companies can increase their work quality in this manner.”
Izham said the plan for the Selangor Utility Corridor was already agreed to in principle before the movement control order took place.
“We will be launching it soon,” he said.
A personal challenge
Flood issues have become a great concern for Izham.
He said the existing drainage infrastructure in the state is no longer adequate to deal with the frequent deluges.
The various flood mitigation projects that have been launched over the years have done little to alleviate the problem.
“The flood issue is not a matter that can be resolved in an effortless manner. It is a very complicated problem that requires in-depth knowledge about drainage and irrigation.
“A detailed study is needed and should focus on the sustainability guidelines of the Drainage and Irrigation Department’s management manual,” he said.
These guidelines, Izham said, would be used as a reference for the planning and development of all flood mitigation efforts.
He said the state administration will upgrade, clean and build more retention ponds and flood control pumping stations. At the moment, Selangor has around 600 retention ponds.
“We will restructure the retention ponds’ ownership. The problem only arises when there is a dispute in regards to the retention ponds’ ownership. Such issues turn the ponds into a no man’s land and their condition only worsens. We want to end that.”
Izham said the state government has placed over 100 retention ponds under the care of the Selangor Irrigation and Drainage Department.
He added that people need to be aware of infrastructure ownership issues.
“(But) the rakyat just wants flood issues to be addressed, so that is why I want to resolve it internally. I am going to take responsibility for this issue and deliver,” he said.