DBKL will tear down the ‘shabby’ Masjid India bazaar area by year-end, making it into an ‘Oxford Street’

Masjid India today, pre-makeover
Masjid India today, pre-makeover

Hold on to your avocados, cold-brews and RM50 artisanal sambals, kids. DBKL is planning to gentrify your favorite city-center location for your inexpensive fashion needs.

That’s right, Masjid India is the latest neighborhood about to go into the makeover vortex and come out looking like every other “development” in KL: It’s about to be turned into “a shopping haven similar to London’s Oxford Street.”

Like you’re going to sit there and pretend that SOGO isn’t already alive, eager to cater to anyone’s shopping needs, DBKL? Is that any way to treat an old friend?

If The Star is right, then the neighborhood described by Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Amin Nordin Abd Aziz as being “aging and shabby” (back atcha, buddy) will see the demolition of the bazaar area.

When asked what will be built in its place, Amin Nordin said he would “replace [it] with a modern concept that is open and bright, something akin to the push cart kiosk that can be moved around.”

No idea what he means exactly; however, it does sound suspiciously similar to a failed episode of Extreme Home Makeovers where everyone cried about the new living room. Tread with caution, Mayor.

The new development is proposed to be part of the 100km River of Life project that was launched in 2011 to give vitality to the forgotten rivers that run through KL, the Klang and Gombak. Yes, we have rivers.

The waters around Masjid India, once the meeting point where the Klang and Gombak formed an estuary, have seen better days. Paved over, and alternatively used as a dumping ground for both rubbish and raw sewage, its murky waters were classified as “not suitable for body contact” when the project was first launched six years ago.

Fast forward to today, and save for a few spots of street art, the rivers remain largely the same. Less rubbish, but probably still unsuitable for any kind of “body contact”.

Not the kind of progress you would expect from a project that was purported to have multi-billion ringgit funding. However, according to Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, it’s 67% complete.

If you believe “67% complete,” you may also believe that the taxi you’re waiting on is “just 5 minutes away.”

Much of the lack of movement, in terms of the bazaar development, comes from an ongoing battle between shop owners and traders, with shop owners refusing to relocate their establishments, and traders refusing to move out.

There’s also the tiny factor of the area not having the infrastructure in terms of a utilities grid to sustain an “Oxford Street.”

But don’t stress just yet, Mr. Selfridge. The city is sticking to its guns and saying that the area will be cleared by end of year.

Finally, just what our city needs, another new shopping development. One question though: Can we touch that water yet?

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