To many motorists who stay in Shah Alam and Klang but work in Kuala Lumpur, travelling via the Shah Alam Expressway (SAE) or sometimes known as the Kesas Highway has become a daily commute. It is a viable alternative to the congested Federal Highway, and a motorist on the SAE can practically travel to any part of the Klang Valley as it connects to a wide range of highway networks such as the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite) North-South Expressway (NSE), Maju Expressway (MEX), New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), Kemuning-Shah Alam Highway (LKSA) and Kuala Lumpur – Karak Highway.

Given its high accessibility in connectivity, today the SAE is a popular travelling mode and over one million motorists ply the route on a daily basis, of which 66% are using the toll-free stretch.

Tan Phin Chan uses the SAE twice daily.

SAE – the route that connects everywhere

Among the many expressway users, Tan Phin Chan is one who uses the SAE so often that at times he travels more than two times a day on the SAE. Working as a real estate agent whose office is in Puchong, the SAE is repeatedly his preferred route to meet his clients around Klang Valley as it allows him to go to the city centre fast.

Shorter travelling time, without being caught in jams, is a luxury that many motorists yearn for. “Using the SAE from Kota Kemuning to Kuala Lumpur has tremendously shortened my travelling time, especially when I’m rushing to run errands in between school hours. Although it is a paid alternative, it is worth the effort as I’m able to spend more quality time with my family,” shared Siti Mazirah Aini, a stay-at-home mother who regularly uses the SAE and was once speedily assisted by Kesas Ronda when her car broke down.

‘Using the SAE from Kota Kemuning to Kuala Lumpur has tremendously shortened my travelling time and allowed me to spend more quality time with my family. I’m also very pleased with the Kesas Ronda team as they were quick to provide assistance when my car broke down,’ says Siti Mazirah Aini, a homemaker.

The SAE has shortened Siti Mazirah Aini’s travel time.

Major inter-urban transportation link

Whether it is for business or leisure, the SAE is a frequently used expressway to Port Klang. Functioning as an important conduit in improving transportation efficiency, more than 7,500 logistic vehicles use the SAE daily as an effective route to West, North and South Port. Savings in travelling time consequently result in the reduction of vehicle operation cost.

Given the long-term reliability, quality and accessibility of the SAE, it has indirectly promoted the development of these areas into fast-growing residential and commercial hubs. This can be seen with the emergence of bustling townships like Bandar Botanic, Bukit Tinggi, Kota Kemuning, USJ, Sunway, Puchong and Bukit Jalil that are developed along the SAE.

The major retail and commercial centres (GM Klang, Sunway Pyramid, Summit Shopping Centre) and education centres (Sunway University, Taylor’s University) are further testament to how SAE has contributed to the region’s economic and urban growth.

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SAE – a successful nation-building infrastructure

While some may see SAE as just another expressway, it has played a part in Malaysia’s history. Many motorists have grown along with the expressway over the past two decades. One of them is Shahlan Ismail, a transporter for Rhino BioTech who has been using the SAE since it first started operations in 1996, travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Klang to deliver goods. He fondly remembers the 1998 Commonwealth Games, which was a significant milestone for Malaysia in hosting a prestigious international event. Connecting from Sultan Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, the SAE was the gateway to the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex.

Shahlan Ismail has seen significant improvements to the SAE over the years.

The SAE was not only planned to cater to the growing population and urbanisation of the Greater Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, it also marked a successful initiative in being part of the country’s infrastructure building. The 1990s was an era of privatisation and industrialisation for Malaysia as the Government embarked on privately-funded highways built using the Build-Operate-Transfer model. The SAE is one of these productive projects, and the tender was won by Kesas Holdings Berhad (KHB).

Today, the SAE is one of the country’s busiest expressways built at a cost of RM1.38bil. Maintaining the 34.5km expressway comprising a six-lane dual carriageway, four toll plazas and two rest and service areas is no easy feat. Together with SAE’s 13 interchanges, it is imperative that the SAE continues to improve connectivity between Klang, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Bandar Sunway, Kinrara, Petaling Jaya, Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

As such, continuous improvement is made to enhance motorists’ travelling experience. More than RM70mil was invested in upgrading works such as lane expansion, lane widening, construction of ramps and elevated/at-grade U-turns.

Upgrades in traffic management also include implementation of contra-flow at stretches where there is no available corridor for lane expansion, for instance, at the Kemuning-Subang Jaya stretch where it experiences the heaviest traffic during peak hours. It is also at this SAE stretch that motorists enjoy a toll-free journey.

‘I use the SAE four times a day from Port Klang to Subang Jaya. Though I have alternative options, I choose to travel on the SAE as the roads are well-paved and comfortable, giving me a smooth and safe journey,’ says J. Pirabas, an employee of UMW Subang Jaya.

J. Pirabas chooses to travel on the SAE as the roads are well-paved and comfortable.

Improving travelling experience

The continuous upgrading works along SAE have not only improved motorists’ travelling experience in terms of comfort, but have also given them an added safety assurance.

So much so that motorists like J. Pirabas, who works for UMW Subang Jaya, attests: “I use the SAE four times a day from Port Klang to Subang Jaya. Though I have alternative options, I choose to travel on the SAE as the roads are well-paved and comfortable, giving me a smooth and safe journey.”

Safety management is paramount at SAE. The facilities provided on SAE for road users are comprehensively thought through with the 24-hour Kesas Ronda patrolling the highway to assist road users. This is on top of the Emergency Telephones which are installed at every 1.5km interval.

SAE is not only a convenient way to travel, it is also the first expressway to have a dedicated motorcycle lane built with safety in mind for all motorists. It is so efficient that it has now become a favourite pathway for group cycling.