BUTTERWORTH: By April, residents of all 30 People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats in the country will get free high-speed Internet access for nine months under the Jalinan Digital Negara pilot project.

After that, they will continue to enjoy connectivity at an affordable fee, said Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming.

He said the RM22mil project under the Jendela@PPR 2.0 programme will upgrade the quality of life for about 53,000 people from the B40 group.

So far, 27 PPR flats have already had the necessary connectivity infrastructure installed and are operational.

“By April, free Internet access at all 30 PPR projects in the country will be available, pending approval from the respective state secretaries, joint management bodies and others,” he said during a visit at Taman Bagan Jaya PPR here.

He added that the 30 PPR projects comprised 13,218 flat units.

Nga said the initiative was important as high-speed Internet access would help low-income families gain greater access to online services such as education and even income opportunities.

He said the implementation involved the laying of fibre-optic cables and the installation of routers and modems to provide 30Mbps speeds in each household.In Taman Bagan Jaya PPR, 1,488 residents in 382 flat units would benefit from being in the first PPR in Penang to get the free Internet access by next month, he added.

One of the residents, Nor Hayati Ahmad, 43, said she felt happy that her house would get a high-speed Internet connection soon.

This will help her daughter and son with their schoolwork, she added.

“My handphone’s broadband was their only option before this. Now, my kids can learn more efficiently,” said the housewife.

Earlier in Bukit Mertajam, Nga announced a RM23mil allocation for the redevelopment of Bukit Mertajam market, which was razed by fire some 10 years ago.

He said the redevelopment was expected to commence this year and completed in three years.

The redevelopment will be divided into five components, comprising marketplace (RM8mil), infrastructure upgrade (RM5mil), a temporary marketplace (RM500,000), multistorey car park (RM8.5mil), and the Bukit Mertajam creative centre (RM1mil).

Nga said the new marketplace would be similar to Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market.