Residents worry of Wang Kelian becoming ghost town if not re-developed

Residents worry of Wang Kelian becoming ghost town if not re-developed

PADANG BESAR: Residents in Wang Kelian have expressed concern of the border area becoming a dead town with no efforts to redevelop or revive the socio -economy of the local community.

Since the free-flow zone in Wang Kelian was abolished, the area has become like a ghost town, it has been quiet, with not many activities going on.

A survey by Bernama found that the rows of shops that were once lively with visitors are now abandoned and many stalls have become dilapidated and waiting for the time to collapse.

However, the situation is different in Wang Pranchan, a town across it on the Thai side of the border. The traders are back to normal operations.

A resident in Kampung Wang Kelian Hilir, Samsiah Desa, 58, said the villagers hoped that efforts to redevelop the area could be expedited to lure back visitors, especially foreign tourists.

“If this place is not developed immediately, I am worried that Wang Kelian will only remain in memory and become a dead town as it has nothing to attract visitors and tourists,” she said.

A trader in Wang Prachan, Thailand, Aishah Che Min, 56, said she hoped the free flow zone in Wang Kelian could be re-opened to revive the economy of traders in Malaysia and Thailand.

“If business activities in these two places are revived, they will attract visitors and this will help boost the economy of the people,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sharifah Nor Azereen Syed Muhaidin, 26, from Langkawi, Kedah, when met here, said the redevelopment of Wang Kelian would give new life to the tourism sector in the area.

“I often visit Wang Kelian en route to visit my family in Satun, Thailand. Before, there would be 20 to 30 bus-load of tourists arriving in Wang Kelian. The place was so lively then,” she said.

Meanwhile, Perlis Border Relations and Cooperation Committee chairman Ruzaini Rais said the state government also hoped that the free flow zone in Wang Kelian could be re-opened, but the decision on the matter depended on the federal government.

He said the state government would make efforts to redevelop the commercial arcades in the area.

“We must attract back visitors to come to Wang Kelian and for that, we are in the process of repairing and upgrading the commercial arcades in the area to be leased out to traders and border control enforcement agencies,” he said.

The free-flow zone in Wang Kelian was abolished in 2015 for security reasons.

Under the free-flow zone, Thais were allowed to enter Wang Kelian without the need for a visitor pass and passport while Malaysians could enter Wang Prachan in Thailand without passports.