KOTA KINABALU (May 26): The state government has been urged to consider expanding the historical Tanjung Aru township to replace the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project.
Jefferi Chang, coordinator of Save Open Space, Kota Kinabalu, who made the call, said the new extended development will follow the strict eco-friendly concept of low-density planning to preserve the nature of the beach and save it from reclamation destruction.
He said tourists from around the world come to Sabah not to see mega development and branded shopping complexes but to experience the local environment, culture and people of Sabah.
Local people should have more access to selling their products and not to international brands or franchises, he added in a statement on Friday.
Jefferi also said the state government and TAED must remember that Tanjung Aru Beach is still a public space and can be accessed and enjoyed anytime without approval.
“The state government must ensure all the recreational facilities and safety infrastructure are in place.
While Tanjung Aru Beach was under TAED management, it is still a government-owned company and shouldn’t run like a private company by setting up its own rules,” he said.
He said the government must think twice before allocating massive projects and prime real estate in Sabah to an entity and company with no financial stability to manage and maintain the beach.
“TAED said they need money to manage the Tanjung Aru beach. With that, they shall return it to DBKK and use public funding to make it better.
“TAED has shown without financial stability when its source income is only the parking and hawker fees.
“This project will become the big white elephant eyesore of the city for decades due to delays and lack of funds.
“Such an ambitious project is a waste when many places with similar projects face problems and delays due to the post-pandemic impact,” he said.
Jefferi said the people should ask themselves whether TAED can benefit the local people or is just built for the rich and famous.
He said there is still time to repeal the previous TAED Master Plan because the land within the general work of the TAED plan has yet started.
“The public can call and talk to their City Hall, state representative and state minister to make this happen.
Such planning will save billion of taxpayer money which can be used to fix the water, power and road infrastructure around the state and KK city,” said Jefferi.
The public have criticised TAED for restricting entry into the beach.
On Wednesday, TAED chairman Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said that access to the Third Beach was blocked to discourage people from swimming in the area due to poor water quality.
He also said the police had advised them to close the area to help control illicit activities in the area as the place is pitch-black at night.
He explained the parking fees and other revenue from the hawker activities was for the upkeep and maintenance of the beach.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor told the State Assembly on Thursday that he would inform TAED to allow the public to have full access to the beach until a development plan is in place.
He said that so far there was no overall development plan for the iconic beachfront and as such the state government had no objections for the public to access all areas of the beach.