In the month of September Malaysians were granted a four-day long weekend. This led to many holiday-goers spending much of their time stuck in traffic.
It started with National Day that took place on Friday, August 31. Malaysian families took advantage of the extra day by taking part in the National Day celebrations held at the Malaysian administrative capital of Putrajaya.
Others stayed within their hometown limits while many braved the roads for a much needed planned or unplanned holiday. However with the four day weekend that combined the public holidays of the King’s Birthday on Sunday, ninth September (replaced on Monday, tenth September) and Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) on Tuesday, 11 September, majority went beyond their state borders all loaded with luggage and family members. The number of city folks that temporarily vacated Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya was rather staggering as it left many shopping centres in the cities not crowded as per the usual norm. Parking bays were rather empty at some famous shopping centres.
Highways leading out of the cities to the north and south had a sudden surge of traffic converging and heading to the popular holiday destinations of Penang, Langkawi island, Ipoh and Cameron Highlands to the north, Genting Highlands in the central region and Melaka and Johor to the south. Needless to say, traffic came to a standstill in those mentioned places with the tremendous addition of holiday makers.
Traffic was not just a tortoise-like crawl and clogged on the roads but also at the ferry terminals for Langkawi island in Kuala Kedah and Tioman island in Mersing. Many famous places of interests had swarming human traffic taking over them. Examples are Penang Hill, A Farmosa, Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Ipoh’s many limestone cave temples like Perak Tong, Sam Poh Tong as well as theme parks like Legoland in Johor and Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh. Massive crowds overwhelmed highly talked-about eateries scattered all over Penang island, Ipoh old town area and along Melaka’s Jonker Street. So scary was the traffic that the locals stayed put in their homes during the long weekend.
Always used to putting up with the inconveniences that take place every time a weekend is a day or two longer, locals in those popular holiday spots dared not complain much. Business operators of restaurants, hotels, street stalls as well as souvenir shops rely heavily on these huge deluge of holiday makers to make a good living. Weekdays are non-peak periods that leave most hotels struggling to fill up their occupancy. The crowds that take up the rooms on such long weekends are happily welcomed to help the proprietors generate profits.
However, Malaysians should consider other alternative places that are new yet also entertaining to ease the burden of traffic on the highways. Better traffic management through well-planned and staggered travel time as per the highway authorities’ advise would also ensure less accidents on the roads and a far more enjoyable holiday experience for everyone. It will also lighten the load of the emergency services that are on active duty throughout the stretched weekends.