THE elevation of Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) to a city council will see its 4,053 staff members striving harder to serve 946,200 people in three districts.
On Monday, Penang Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo announced that MPSP would be accorded city council status.
Seberang Prai aims to become a low-carbon and smart city by 2022 through the planting of 150,000 trees and increasing the recycling rate to 70%.
More closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, environmental sensors and LED lighting will be installed and they can be monitored simultaneously from the control room at the council headquarters in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam.
MPSP secretary Rosnani Mahmod said stakeholders naturally would have high expectations of the council following the upgrade.
“The rebranding will be a reminder for us to do better than what we have achieved.
“We will try our best to deliver,” she said.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow expressed delight over the recognition, saying both local authorities in the state had now attained city status.
“It’s an achievement that comes with greater responsibility,” he said.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock hopes the city status will bring the trading industry and infrastructure development on the mainland to another level.
“It will enhance Seberang Prai’s marketability to attract more foreign investment.
“We have been waiting for the news for over a decade and I believe the city status will bring the Penang mainland greater glory,” he said.
Think City Sdn Bhd programme director Murali Ram hopes Prai River, which runs through Seberang Prai, will be a catalyst for city rejuvenation.
He said recreational public space should be created at certain spots along the longest river in the state.
“I hope the focus will be on the established urban areas like Butterworth, Seberang Jaya, Bukit Mertajam and Kepala Batas, where the Prai River runs through.
“The existing padi fields and hills should also be preserved.
“The future of Penang is Seberang Prai, including Nibong Tebal in the south,” he said.
Historically, the Prai River was the boundary between Kedah and north of Seberang Prai, then known as Province Wellesley, before the Kedah Sultanate ceded the area to the British East India Company in 1798.
Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar expressed hope that the city status would bring a more balanced growth between the mainland and the island, which was accorded city status in 2015.
“I hope there will be a continuous improvement in the quality of life for all Penangites both on the mainland and island,” she said.
The announcement also delighted housewife Khoo Lean Sim, 46, and sundry goods trader Mohd Ismail Kassim, 26.
“We want the streets to be safer and more pedestrian-friendly as a lot of us walk to the market and around the neighbourhood.
“Our future generations will benefit from a greener and pleasant city,” said Khoo.
Mohd Ismail hopes more high-value development will be carried out as he hopes to expand his business for his children to operate.