Monday, July 4, 2022

The ghost town of Forest City

Originally envisioned as an innovative smart city constructed on four artificial islands in Johor, the project appears to be inching along with only a fraction of the occupants initially targeted.

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Residential buildings loom on one of the four reclaimed islands of Forest City.

As of 2020, fewer than 500 people lived in Forest City compared to the 700,000 originally targeted.

Carnelian Tower 1, which houses the Forest City management office, stands in the middle of the project area.

Despite the fanfare that accompanied its launch, the roads leading to the Forest City project are for the most part quiet and deserted.

In keeping with the project’s name, many of the buildings feature greenery meant to give the illusion of living amid nature.

Workers continue maintaining the shrubs around one of the buildings despite the project’s low occupancy rate.

Not far off, a signboard has rusted and fallen over and now lies abandoned on the road.

More greenery hangs over a row of shoplots, none of which appears to be occupied.

Inside, dead leaves litter the ground, lending a ghostly air to the empty shops.

Props are crammed into a shoplot advertised for use as a furniture store.

Still more shops stand devoid of customers with their shutters pulled down.

A handful of tourists sit at a pop-up drinks stall.

Outside, even the beach appears deserted with only a woman and her child taking pictures at the waterside.

Further down the beach, there are signs of activity as jet-ski and banana boat operators wait for tourists.

A sign in English and Chinese reminds largely non-existent tourists of prohibited activities.

A small group of tourists chat at a playground still shiny-new and without the wear and tear normally associated with the presence of children.

There are no children in sight at the water park, either.

The Tuas link connecting Johor and Singapore can be seen in the distance, a 20-minute drive from Forest City.

Of the four islands initially envisioned, only one is complete.

An aerial view of the Forest City residential buildings – minus, it seems, the residents.

Nearby stands the Tanjung Pelepas port from which some workers are said to be renting units at Forest City for RM700 to RM1,300 per month.

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