Compass - A Tale Of Two Rivers, The [world Service]

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01A Tale Of Two Rivers20170628

Susan Marling visits Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur to see how regeneration of urban rivers is re-writing those cities.

In Los Angeles Susan Marling speaks to Frank Gehry. The famous architect has been charged with creating a master plan for the improvement of the Los Angeles River. It is a tough job. Since the 1930s when the river was straightened and lined with concrete to mitigate flooding, the waterway has been a hidden, polluted channel that many Angelenos did not even know existed.

But now the money and the political will (we speak to mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti) are in place to ‘green’ the river, create parks, continue the development of cycle paths and to spark a swathe of new housing and connections between neighbourhoods. The big question is whether this can be done without displacing the poorer people and the small businesses who currently live and work close to the river. And if LA becomes host of the 2024 summer Olympics, will it have a new clean river to show the world?

Producer: Victoria Ferran

(Photo: The Los Angeles River)

02A Tale Of Two Rivers20170705

Susan Marling visits Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur to see how regeneration of urban rivers is re-writing those cities.

In Kuala Lumpur the regeneration of the city’s Klang River is seen as a key element in the modernisation of the whole country. The capital city is keen to attract talent workers and tourists from all over Asia and beyond. But the historic downtown heart of Kuala Lumpur has become run down, the home to migrant workers from Bangladesh and Myanmar, while the economic focus has moved to the ring of steel and glass skyscrapers on the outskirts. Regenerate the Klang, the thinking goes, and downtown will come to life again.

So, as with Los Angeles, there are serious moves to clean up the river, to encourage citizens to walk and cycle sections of its banks and to educate people to think differently about the river in ways that will lessen pollution.

But questions remain. How to secure vital community involvement? How to make public/private partnerships and also protect the rights of local people? How to get city workers out of their cars? And, how to sustain government funding?

(Photo: Local politician Ong Kian Ming on the Klang River, Kuala Lumpur)