Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Esplanade to rise in Sipitang town, Sabah

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

Sipitang town, a five-hour drive from Kuala Lurah and Tedungan Immigration Control Post, has been developing very fast when compared to two decades ago.

The construction of an esplanade in Sipitang district would give the district a major facelift and a new attraction for the coastal town to bolster its status as the transit town for visitors from Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam.

Esplanades became popular in Victorian times when it was fashionable to visit seaside resorts. An esplanade is a long, open, level area, next to a large body of water, where people may walk or promenade for recreation, whatever the state of the tide, without having to walk on the beach.

A huge green canopy of trees grow vigorously along the coastline, where vendors sell local cuisines like satay, barbeque chicken wings, thighs, rojak, soto and ais batu campur, from three o'clock in the afternoon to 10 o'clock at night.

It is envisaged that once the 452-metre long and 75-metre wide esplanade is completed, the town will become a major landmark and tourist attraction for the Sipitang district. The esplanade would attract more visitors from the neighbouring state and countries to stop by before proceeding to other parts of Sabah.

The Sipitang Esplanade costs RM12 million, which is expected to be ready by mid 2010. With the completion of Sipitang Esplanade facing South China Sea, people will be able to see the sunset. The Sipitang Esplanade is hoped to attract many local and international tourists in the future. However, there is only one hotel available in Sipitang town.

Travellers prefer to travel back in two hours to reach Kota Kinabalu City where there are many low-cost hotels, lodging houses and backpackers lodging houses to stay. But, these do not guarantee to serve clients rooms during peak times.

Based on records, there is a rise in the number of visitors entering Sabah at the border in Sindumin near Sipitang. In 2007, there were 104,515. Up to June 2008, 59,919 people passed through the border to enter Sabah.

The stretches of roads between Mesapol and Beaufort factor contributed to the slow development of Sipitang town. Then, Sipitang district was a den for illegal immigrants for the ethnic Bugis from Indonesia and some Filipinos. The culture of the Bruneians and other ethnics of Sabah almost disappeared if the state government did not curb the socio-economic and security threats. For example, Tawau district was no longer showing the original culture of the Sabahans.

Sipitang district was dirty to the naked eye. Illegal wooden stalls were selling Indonesian cuisine without caring for food hygiene standards as long as money was collected. Early in the year 2000, when these stretches of roads were given attention by the ex-Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Seri Datuk Seri Chong Kah Kita and ex-premier of Malaysia Tun Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Sipitang town changed drastically.

A Bailey bridge passable for a three tonne-lorry was changed to a reinforced concrete bridge today.

I saw in Sipitang town the wooden shop houses ran by the illegal immigrants of Bugis ethnic from Indonesia had been improved with the construction of many brick shop buildings, wet markets and tamu stalls.

Across the street from the market was a row of two-storey shop houses. These buildings enclosed a walkway a block long that opened onto the street through a series of archways. The cool passageway was packed as shoppers bargained with vendors over cooking pots and bicycles, sacks of rice and dried prawns.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

No comments: