By Narissa Noor
The Customs and Excise Pier of Bandar Seri Begawan is to get a facelift as part of the implementation of the 9th National Development Plan (2007-2012) to revitalise the nation's capital. The wet market (Pasar Tambing) and the old Immigration Department building are to be demolished.
Currently in the first phase of development, the waterfront master plan has proposed five strategies with the goal of revitalising the city centre in what it hopes will stimulate nightlife in the capital.
The master plan is currently being refined and developed by the Town and Country Planning Department under the Bandar Seri Begawan and Gadong Improvement Area Plan 1998.
The 4.589-acre of land, mostly flat concrete wharf accessible by pedestrian walkways, roads and river, at present houses the former Royal Customs and Excise and former Immigration Department buildings, as well as private car parks, night food stalls and a wet market.
With the new plan, an open square promenade, a green urban landscape and public spaces specifically designed for interactive features will be erected, complemented by privatised alfresco cafes, kiosks and souvenir shops.
The Director of Brunei Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, when contacted yesterday said that the waterfront project is a timely one and "will enhance the look and feel of our most unique tourism attraction, the Brunei Water Village".
He also revealed that the project coincides with Brunei Tourism's current project of Kampong Ayer Cultural Centre, expected to be launched in February 2009.
The site for the proposed waterfront is located in the centre of Bandar Seri Begawan, overlooking the historical Kampong Ayer and forms part of the central business district of Bandar Seri Begawan.
It will not, however, be a complete facelift as the existing former Royal Customs and Excise building has been gazetted and recognised by the Museums Department as a listed building under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act of 1967 (revised in 2002). According to the Act, the building along with its immediate surroundings will be maintained, restored and refurbished.
It was also revealed that the redevelopment of the area into a City Centre Waterfront hopes to act as an integrative mechanism to initiate other proposed developments such as the Sungai Kedayan River Park, improvement and pedestrianisation of Jalan Sultan and Jalan Roberts, Subok Ridge Heritage Park and Kampong Ayer Activity Centre.
The tender for the construction was awarded on April 2, 2008, and as of December 15, 2008, the surrounding car parks will be closed indefinitely as construction of the waterfront breaks ground, displacing hundreds of people working in the capital.
The Municipal Department, in a statement, urged members of the public who utilise these parking areas to use other private parking facilities.
The department is yet to reveal the expected completion date of the waterfront project.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin