Sunday, February 21, 2016

Limbang riding the crest of development


LIMBANG constituency is unique. It can be likened to an island separated from the Sarawak land mass by its borders with Brunei Darusalam to the west and east, Lawas District to the southeast and Miri District at the south and southeast.

With two state constituencies — Bukit Kota and Batu Danau — sandwiched between the Sultanate of Brunei and its Temburong District, one must have a passport to travel into or out of Limbang from any part of Malaysia.

Bukit Kota, centred around Limbang town, has 16,316 registered voters – Malay Bumiputeras over 55 per cent, Chinese (40 per cent) with other Bumiputera groups making up the rest. This is home to the biggest Kedayan population in Sarawak.

With a distinctive Brunei Malay language, this multiracial District was mired in economic backwaters until the advent of a wave of transformation and increasing connectivity via land induced greater physical, socioeconomic and mindset changes.

Things are looking up for Limbang where the buffalo is an icon.

The opening of the RM21 million Friendship Bridge at Pandaruan is a symbol of Malaysian-Brunei cooperation and also the last piece of the Pan Borneo jigsaw. It unleashes the economic potential of the Limbang Basin and promotes regional travels and growth, further boosted by the extension of the opening hours of the CIQs from 10pm to midnight.

Limbang is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. With its strategic location next to Brunei, Labuan, Lawas and Sabah, this bustling river port boasts a crowd-pulling cultural festival – the Pesta Limbang which draws tens of thousands of locals and visitors alike to its shores every year.

Iconic buffalo races

In Batu Danau, the iconic buffalo races are the highlights of the annual Pesta Babulang.

Water sports and land sports, especially motocross, welfare activities and assistance for the needy, including natural disaster victims, all receive the personal attention of incumbent Bukit Kota state assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail.

Substantial inflow of funds, translating into welcomed socioeconomic changes through development projects — major and minor – have brought in a heightened sense of optimism and new found vibrancy, putting to rest the former image of Limbang as an economic backwater.

The latest mega project is the RM150 million Limbang Bridge which will slash by half the travelling time to barely 45 minutes from Limbang to the Brunean capital of Bandar Seri Begawan. This is a welcomed development for visitors from Brunei and vice-versa.

Now, travellers have to pass through the Tedungan CIQ and Batu Danau region.

The distance will also be reduced to less than 20km from the present 50 km from Limbang town to the Malaysian-Brunei border.

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