If you had not visited Kuala Lipis for the last 25 years, you will be surprised with the changes it has gone trough. For a small town with a snail-like pace of progress, I did not expect much changes, as there is actually not much pressure to incur the changes. The economic role of the town is almost negligible, and in fact it is reducing due to the improvement in the transport system.
The followings are observed changes:
1. The town role as the middle man in distributions and collections
When the river transports were the main mode of transport, Kuala Lipis location was suited to be the distribution centers to distribute goods to outskirt villages. So goods from singapore will arrive by train or products from kuala lumpur arrive by lorries and kept by the middleman in kuala lipis and distributed by boats to different villages along the rivers. The two main rivers were river lipis and jelai.
Similarly, product from the plantations and from the jungle will be brought by boats and sold to the middleman in kuala lipis. The examples of the products are, rubber, rattan, rubber from jelutong and resins.
With the improvement in transportation, the sellers from kuala lumpur can reach the smaller villages to collect the rural products and sell the imported products. That also mean that kuala lipis is being bypassed the business chains.
2. The Transport System
During the heyday of railway, Kuala Lipis was the biggest train station in the East Coast. Hundreds of workers were employed to run and maintain the locomotive and the tracks.Now much of them have become part of the history.
I still remember when the station was the center of attraction, hundreds of passengers embarking and disembarking the trains. Goods from the surrounding villages came down with the products to sell. Even my aging grand mum, brought some rubber sheets to sell.
Now, visit the train, remind of the memory, and practically the station is empty. The road has taken over the role, with regular buses and taxis.
I remember how closely knitted the transport was. As you step out of the railway, you will walk into the bus station and taxi station. So it make it easy. Now, the bus station is about 2 km away, and imagine walking from the railway to the bus station in the middle of the hot sun. It seem the old generation have more of the wisdom then the planner of today.
3. The town has expanded.
It use to be a streets town, The main street and the Jelai Street, and of course the third waking path or steps going right through the centre.
Now, 2 more centers are developed, one is across the railway track, they call it the center point. It use to be a green park. The second development site is the new township across the river. The new town was opened for about two years without sign of success. Then they decided to more the market and the bus station at the inconvenience of the customers, The reasons can be only given by the Town authority or Majlis Daerah.
4. The Cinema is Gone.
The town use to have a place for the local people to enjoy the big screen. It is gone now. I think this is the result of the technology development of CD and DVD and the Computer.
I remember the crowd at the festive times, when thousands from the surrounding village descend onto the town.
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