Tuesday, July 5

Tawau’s iconic hill being flattened

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TAWAU: Tawau folks are uneasy that their famed Sin On Hill – the spectacular jogging equivalent of KK’s Bukit Padang park – is on the verge of being wiped out of sight by a quarry company which is about to deliver the last blow, a Daily Express report said.

And they are helpless that none of their elected representatives seemed to notice, much less do anything about it.

“The place is an amazing exercise paradise for us. The air is clean, the wind fresh and the panaromic view of Tawau and Cowie Bay inspires vision,” said Gary Yap. “If you have visitors, this is one place to take them to catch a bird’s eye view of Tawau.”

The hill is strategically located near a posh residential area called Taman Capital, Mile 5, Sin On Road, about 500m behind the former Capital Cinema (now Basel Church).

“No less than 300 joggers make their scramble up and down this wonderful hill for their weekly pump up exercise each Sunday.

Even on week days, the count of joggers easily exceed 100 but half the hill has already been torn down leaving a thin ridge top where excavators are scraping rocks away to finish off the job.

It looks as if they are going to flatten the whole hill,” said Gary who is mounting a signature campaign to rally the strength of civil society to make their voice count. The quarry is operated by Onika Quarry.

Although the hill is part of a private land, the basic land law as stated in the Sabah Land Ordinance (Cap 68), Section 26 on rivers and seashore reserves, and ridges of hills is very clear on who owns rivers and river reserves and ridges of hills. Section 26 (1) reads:

“Unless otherwise expressly provided in any title, the entire property in the control of the waters of all rivers, creeks, streams and water courses and of the seashore below high water mark is and shall be vested solely in the Government.”

Section 26 (2) reads: “The Government also has power to reserve such portions of land as maybe deemed advisable along the banks of rivers, streams or along the ridges of hills.

Such reservations shall be shown on all the documents of title.”

So, when it comes to hills and rivers inside private land, the Sabah Land Ordinance says the State Government not only has power of control of rivers but also has power to reserve portions of land as required along banks of rivers big and small, or along the ridges of hills.

The hundreds of affected joggers may have the recourse to the rights given them in State land law to safeguard a natural resource deemed valuable to them.