Gov’t wants public to take charge of car-free Sundays

National 3 minutes, 30 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong said that the ministry is aiming for the car-free Sunday initiative to be driven by the public.

Speaking to _The Brunei Times _on the sidelines of a walkathon around the capital with senior officials and staff from the ministry yesterday, the minister said that he was pleased to see the increase in number of people who came to town to enjoy the vehicle-less atmosphere compared to the inaugural edition the week before.

“I am happy with today’s turnout, with quite a lot more families participating in the activities provided here by 8am and utilising the space here from last week. We want this to be a people-driven event and our role is only to help facilitate their ideas by providing them the space to carry out the activities,” he said.

“This week already has more activities for the public compared to the previous week but to add more activities for future Sundays would depend on members of the public as we are allowing the people to organise these themselves,” he said.

The minister said that he expects more people to turn up in the coming weeks as awareness of the initiative grows among the public.

“Our aim is for more people to know about the car-free initiatives on Sunday and the perks we have promoted such as free parking and extending the operating hours of the vendors by four hours until 2pm, so hopefully these moves will attract more people,” he said.

He said that his ministry would continue to listen to feedback given by the public before deciding on moves to improve the weekly initiative in the capital.

“We will monitor the activities and feedback. As previously mentioned, we have decided to lengthen the vendors’ operating hours as we saw that people tend to arrive after 9am specifically to browse the wares on sale and not to participate in outdoor activities,” he said.

“So we may or may not extend the car-free hours depending on the public feedback and observations,” he said.

The minister was speaking at the car-free festivities in the capital, called Bandarku Ceria, yesterday where members of the public yet again participated in outdoor activities while vendors had set up their stalls from as early as 5am.

Village Consultative Councils (MPK) from the Brunei-Muara and Tutong district also displayed their One Village One Product wares at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien. Several activities were also organised by members of Tutong MPKs for members of the public to participate in which showcased traditional games and parts of Tutong’s culture.

Meanwhile, visitors to the capital said that the car-free event needed more public amenities.

“I was also here on the first event last Sunday and I can see that there are small improvements to make it a more enjoyable experience for me and my family which is fantastic as I do consider this event to be special as previously, the roads would be open for pedestrians only on national day or His Majesty’s birthday celebrations,” said 37 year-old Noor Hj Md Buhari.

“However, the most obvious need that I can see is for there to be more public toilets or access to the toilets in the nearby buildings which remain mostly closed. At the very least, there should be signs directing the way to the nearest toilet for those who need it,” she said. Another local visitor, Hj Wan Muhammad Hilmi Sheh, said that there is also a need for more rubbish bins to be placed at every street corner to make it more convenient for visitors.

“There are several large green tipper bins situated around the Taman, but in my opinion, there should be more bins placed everywhere as now it is not enough and lack of it might unintentionally encourage littering,” he said.

“However, the team of street cleaners have done a very good job working throughout the morning to make sure that the roads and sidewalks are devoid of rubbish but perhaps more bins can make their jobs a little easier,” he said.

The Brunei Times