Saturday, August 15, 2009

Belait rural areas identified for Brunei's second airport

By Liza Mohd

The rural areas of Long Mayan/Merangking Ulu Mukim Bukit Sawat has been identified as a potential site for the construction of Brunei's second international airport, according to the Belait District Structure Plan 2025.

In addition to the ongoing construction of the Telisai-Lumut bypass, the Belait District Plan, unveiled during yesterday's exhibition at the Seria Oil and Gas Discovery Centre, also shows a viable plan of building a Labi-Kuala Balai road network that will lead to the proposed second airport.

Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Development Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos was present at the launch of the four-day exhibition of the Belait District Plan.

In his speech, he said that one of the ideas which could bring about major and positive impact towards the development of the Belait District is identifying Sungai Liang as the regional centre apart from Bandar Seri Begawan for the purpose of balanced development among the four districts in the nation.

Apart from that, there are also ideas to restore the social and physical infrastructure, distribution of housing, schools, public facilities and others.

In the plan, the population of Belait is also expected to rise to 86,500 people in the year 2025 as compared to 63,900 people in 2006, the permanent secretary said.

"With that kind of growth, the need for housing will also increase by about 40 per cent from the existing numbers," he added.

As revealed in the plan, the demand for housing is expected to increase to 15,871 units by 2025.

In terms of rural development, the Belait District plan has also identified several villages such as Labi and Sungai Mau as rural centres that will be able to contribute to the economic development in their respective areas, the chief guest stated.

The district plan has also identified the main land usage towards ensuring a strategic development and maintenance or the preservation of the nation's forest reserves and environmentally sensitive areas, so that it would be continuously protected for the future generation, the permanent secretary said.

He expressed belief that a comprehensive planning on land usage is crucial towards a balanced and sustainable development.

Apart from that, the district plan also serves as a guideline for controlled development and preparations of infrastructure and coordinated general facilities.

The permanent secretary said the Town and Country Planning Department through a local engineering consultant has been preparing the Belait District Plan since April 2008 with the purpose of providing the strategic framework and directions of development for the district.

The plan has provided for four districts in the country including the Belait District. It has gone through four preparation stages starting from inception, sectoral, proposals and strategies and currently is in its final preparatory stage.

The public, government agencies and relevant stakeholders, particularly residents in the district, have been involved according to the stages of preparations. These include dialogue sessions, focus group discussion and now, the exhibition to disclose the planning for public members.

During the exhibition, residents in the Belait District are given opportunities to give their feedback through forms provided at the venue.

Haji Mohd Rozan also recalled attending a dialogue session with the residents of the Belait District on April 10 this year at the early level of the district plan preparations.

Now the district plan has reached its final stage and the permanent secretary expressed his pleasure in viewing the final results of the plan, which has taken several months in terms of information gathering, data analysis and the direction of the district's development.

He welcomed residents in the Belait District to observe and pay close attention to the plan, which will be available for viewing for four days, and provide their feedback towards improving it.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Town and Country Planning Mr Hong Kok Seng in his welcoming remarks said the exhibition is to introduce and provide exposure to public and residents in the district on land usage strategies and proposals, which has been drafted for the vision and direction of development and progress in the district.

He hoped that it would serve as an investment plan for the district towards continual planning for desired projects carried out by agencies in the district.

The exhibition among others unveiled the National Land Use Master Plan from 2006-2025; the natural resources in the Belait District; housing demand; distribution of squatter settlements, land uses and settlement; economic development and industry, tourism potential; natural environment, Belait roads, traffic and transport; infrastructure and utilities; community services and facilities and also main economic activities in the district.

In terms of agriculture development, the existing and potential future agriculture reserves in the district make it a strong contributor towards achieving national food security. Belait District has the largest area of land reserved for paddy production and accounts for more than 35 per cent of the national rice output and is currently focussed towards raising domestic rice production.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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