River with a sea-gate

Road signpost at Jalan Segget
IN the Malay dictionary, the word closest to the word "segget" is probably "senget" which means 'aslant.' Yet neither Sungai (river) Segget nor Jalan (road) Segget is physically slanting. 

So how did the name "segget" come about – if it has any meaning at all?  

In the 1800s when Singapore was a part of the Malay States, Johor ruler Temenggong Ibrahim adopted the kangchu system introduced by Sir Stamford Raffles in Singapore and the cultivation of pepper and gambir became widespread as Chinese immigrants settled in Johor Baru. 

Boats or sampan was the main mode of transport for traders who plied the rivers to trading posts in Johor.

A sea-gate at the edge of
the Johor Straits
Running parallel to Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Sungai Segget was a major waterway into Johor Baru's main thoroughfare and, for decades, was infamous for the pungent stink of rotting refuse because it was also a dumping ground for waste matter from the people living along its banks. 

The repulsive pong, most acute at low tide, would permeate the whole neighbourhood and it became notoriously synonymous with the heart of Johor Baru! 

When the tide was high, water flooded the upper reaches of Sungai Segget as its river mouth opened into the Straits of Johor.

To regulate water levels at high tide and to control traffic, a sea-gate was thus constructed at the river mouth. 

After that, the river was referred to as "sea-gate" but through the years, the locals probably corrupted the word, turning it into what we now know as segget. 

In recent years, the Government has undertaken cleaning and beautifying projects in several stages which include massive dredging, widening and reinforcement of this waterway.

Today Sungai Segget in the heart of JB is covered and would soon be unveiled as a modern promenade with exciting entertainment and refreshment kiosks! 

So should you chance to take a stroll along the spanking new Segget Walk, just recall that once upon a time, Sungai Segget was called "sea-gate".

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 14 April 2005

NOTE: Waterways were the main mode of transport then and Sultan Abu Bakar had a fleet of vessels to travel to the districts in Johor. One of these vessels was called M V Segget and this name Segget was given to the main waterway through Johor Baru, Sungai Segget.

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