THE DUKE OF HIGHWAYS

Reducing the Carbon Footprint and Encouraging Public Transportation

Often, when we think of the word “sustainability”, we generally think off adopting newer technology or design philosophies into our lives. For architects, it could mean incorporating passive designs in their projects, using green construction materials, or even planning out an entire ecosystem that perfectly synergises together to reduce energy, water, and general waste. For one man, however, it isn’t about chasing what’s new. Instead, his philosophy is about using what already exists and maximising its potential benefits. After all, as the saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Tan Sri Datuk Lim Keng Cheng is the Managing Director of Ekovest Berhad, a company that primarily engages in construction works and property development. They are also well known as the master planner of the DUKE Highway, a project that aims to connect everyone living in the Klang Valley area through sustainable means. Their approach is less about building just another highway but instead to integrate assets that already have, or will, exist.

Finding Shortcuts

It’s often quite troubling to hear about developers looking for shortcuts because it is generally associated with irresponsible companies finding ways to cut costs and hastily finish their projects. However, in Ekovest’s case, they were actively searching for ways to shorten the distance from one location to the next. Tan Sri explains “As a KL boy, I understand the frustration when it comes to driving around the city because there weren’t any ways to bypass all that traffic.” With that, he sought ways to reduce the amount of time and distance spent driving on the road.

The result is DUKE Highway – a shortcut that goes through the Klang Valley area so that drivers can quickly go in and out of KL. It integrates itself with significant highways and Ekovest has elevated the expressway over certain developed regions. What this creates is a highway that maximises efficiency in terms of the use of land and space.
As part of the DUKE-Masterplan, Ekovest has also developed the KL City Bypass to complement and connect the already existing Middle Ring Road 1 (MRR1) and Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2). The KL City Bypass has two goals: 1) to create a smooth connection between MRR1 and MRR2, and 2) to assist in the adoption of public transportation. To achieve the second goal, Ekovest has identified 10 locations near public transport hubs and will establish parking lots that will integrate with the highway. What this creates is a synergising relationship between Ekovest and public transport hubs which will solve a problem that the citizens of the Klang Valley area face. Rather than driving from point A all the way to point B, drivers can instead choose to leave their cars at one of these ten parking lots and opt to take buses and trains instead, thus reducing the number of vehicles on the road and encouraging the adoption of mass transit.

Commitment to Humanity

Tan Sri Datuk Lim Keng Cheng reveals that by far the most crucial part of the entire project was Ekovest’s consistent communication with their stakeholders. They have worked closely with various parties to ensure that DUKE Highway is on the road to success. Among their work includes commitments from Top Management towards driving Sustainable Infrastructure Initiatives with the Government as well as publishing a report in collaboration with Monash University on building green highways for the nation.

This continuous engagement did not go by without notice, as CIDB appointed Ekovest to be a pioneer of Malaysia to receive a rating from CEEQUAL, an international sustainable rating tool for infrastructure projects. In 2019, Ekovest was given an award at the CEEQUAL Awards 2019 and received a “Highly Commended” appraisal in Community and Stakeholder Relations category. Indeed, this demonstrates that the success of DUKE Highway rides along with Ekovest’s commitment to humanity.

DUKE Highway is not sustainable in the modern sense of the term. Instead, it follows the traditional definition of the word by solving problems in a way that will genuinely benefit society for generations to come. By reducing the distance it takes to travel from point A to point B, people will use less fuel which reduces the overall carbon footprint of the nation. Furthermore, through the development of the KL City Bypass, this makes it easier for the general public to begin adopting public transportation, thus reducing the overall number of cars on the road. 

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