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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

KK promises an eco-friendly waterfront project

Over the last few decades the narrow shoreline of the once serene coastal town of Kota Kinabalu (KK) has changed.

What KK was, in the 1950s or 1960s, is now almost unrecognisable to those who grew up close to it.

It has rapidly changed its face over the last three decades with most of the city centre built on reclaimed land.

Impressive real estate: An artist’s impression of the Kota Kinabalu waterfront.

Today, Kota Kinabalu City Hall is striving to strike a balance in preserving its old environment, while pushing for development to make the city a world-class leisure and tourism spot, in line with the objectives of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

This rainforest city of over 300,000 people will play the leading role as the gateway to Sabah, which aims to be one of the most liveable places in Asia.

For city planners it is also crucial that the city is ready to impress and help the state woo some RM105bil in development projects for investments under the SDC’s 18-year overall economic development plan.

Environmentalist, however, are worried about pushing Kota Kinabalu's shoreline further into the sea as they believe further changes would bring irreparable consequences to city’s very own treasure.

Their concern is on the proposed Kota Kinabalu waterfront project that offers to transform Kota Kinabalu into an integrated mixed development along a section of the Kota Kinabalu town’s coastline.

The Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront, expected to be completed by 2010, will feature the key attraction of a 2km long boardwalk, built using eco-friendly materials rising above the sea on stilts.

Waterfront Urban Development Sdn Bhd (WUD) is carrying out the entire project in collaboration with Kota Kinabalu City (DBKK).

The project is among those identified under the SDC that aims to make Sabah a major destination for both leisure and business tourism and has also caught the attention of Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Bhd (KFHMB) and a consortium of Middle Eastern and Malaysian investors.

At the launch of the SDC, a tripartite agreement was signed between WUD, KFH and Intonasi Intan Sdn Bhd witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

WUD managing director Reymee Mohamed Hussein said the development would incorporate environmentally friendly features like hi-tech LED lighting, energy conserving air conditioning systems and solar powered pedestrian lighting along the boardwalk.

Reymee, together with Geoffrey P.J. Lee, conceptualised the Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront development masterplan with DBKK.

He gave the assurance that there would be no reclamation work.

“It is primarily to increase the role of a coastal city like Kota Kinabalu to become a catalystfor the modernisation and development in Sabah,” said Reymee, adding that the RM500mil project was conceptualised after studying several thriving world class international waterfront attractions like Darling Harbour (Australia), Cape Town Waterfront (South Africa), Victoria Harbour (Hong Kong), Canary Wharf (London) and Clark Quay Riverside (Singapore).

The development will also spur economic growth for Kota Kinabalu and provide employment and new business opportunities to local residents and businesses.

“Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront will feature one of the longest city waterfront boardwalks in Asia and is poised to become the city’s prime tourist attraction. It will be an integral part of Sabah’s hospitality industry,” Reymee said.

Sabah Environment Protection Association president Datuk Sue Jayasuriya said there was a need to ensure that any development did not turn the rainforest city into a concrete jungle.

By The Star

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