THE year 2013 will herald a new chapter for Negri Sembilan as the state’s main town will be named the country’s 12th city.
The city status, which is long awaited by Seremban folk, will be made possible with the merger of the Seremban Municipal Council (MPS) and the Nilai Municipal Council (MPN), which will be renamed the Seremban City Council.
MPS and MPN chairman Datuk Abd Halim Abd Latif recently told Bernama that preparations were in full swing for the merger.
Finance, the populace, tax and infrastructure will need to be coordinated before Seremban can attain city status.
Following cabinet approval in April, the state government was given one year to decide on a date to declare Seremban as a city.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan opted not to rush it, as he wanted to make sure that infrastructure and public amenities were in place first.
Seremban, which is believed to have got its name from a traditional pastime, sarimban, has come a moderate way.
It was earlier known as Sungai Ujong when tin ore was discovered in 1870. The town flourished from a mining area to a business centre, serving as the hub for tin and other supplies.
Today, development is on the rise, with efforts to beautify Seremban and Nilai, giving the two towns an infrastructure boost for the city status.
The upgrading of roads and sewage and drainage systems, and installation of streetlights are also being carried out.
Seremban was supposed to have been declared a city back in 2008 but it was not able to fulfil certain criteria.
Among them was the number of residents, which should exceed 500,000 to qualify for city status. At the time, there were only 470,000 people in Seremban and Nilai. The population of Seremban and Nilai now total about one million.
The rising population followed the opening of new townships, such as Seremban 2, Bandar Sri Sendayan, Bandar Enstek and Bandar Baru Nilai, and the setting up of research and educational institutions such as Britain’s prestigious Epsom College, the Nilai Cancer Institute, Inti International University, Nilai Polytechnic, International Islamic University Malaysia’s medical faculty and International University College of Nursing.
The population increase was also seen after the opening of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang as well as easy access of two highways connecting the state to Kuala Lumpur, resulting in more people working in Kuala Lumpur scouting for houses in Seremban.
Both municipal councils have also attained a combined annual revenue of more than RM100 million, far above the amount required to qualify for city status.
The town has been on a steep learning curve ever since, with the people’s growing anticipation of improved public facilities and other developments.
In the state’s 2013 budget, an allocation of RM33.36 million is to be used for various developments, such as repairing village roads, construction of low-cost houses and upgrading work on historical buildings to boost tourism in the state.
Once declared a city, the people of Seremban will enjoy more benefits, which include higher allocations from the Federal Government for development.
The higher number of tourists flocking to the town will also give the state government greater opportunity to promote Seremban and Negri Sembilan to a wider international market.
There will also be more major events in Seremban, apart from an increased interest from investors and businesses. - NST