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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Make beach rehab a priority in Port Dickson

PORT Dickson (PD) is now being earmarked for a massive development plan that aims to inject new life into the town's tourism business.

But whatever grand plan the state government has, it has to be mindful of the sins of yesteryears, which have left this somewhat sleepy town, quite honestly, a model of wanton development.

News is that PD may be declared a duty-free zone. Also on the drawing board are a new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex on reclaimed land, and a new jetty.

The plan is simple: PD is a traditional tourist destination and much is needed to liven up this town.

But plans have to be prioritised and much soul searching is needed to understand why PD has not fulfilled its potential as a premier beach closest to the Klang Valley.

The tried and tested route of “if you build, they will come” for PD is one that has been attempted before.

Developers, thinking that PD would benefit from its proximity to KL International Airport, have flooded this town with apartments and condominiums, many of which are, sadly, left idle today.

Apart from the deserted buildings, there has also been poor planning with regard to its hotels. Hotels and condominiums currently obstruct public access to the some of the town's best beaches.

This is frustrating for me as I used to visit PD frequently as a boy. My father grew up in this town and worked there for a few years.

The once-famed pristine beaches - a figment of one's imagination you might say if you look at the state of the beaches today - are crying for much needed rehabilitation.

PD's attraction used to be its beaches and efforts should have been made to protect this jewel instead of leaving it in disrepair. And the town today is an example of how development, almost unplanned and one-sided, has left a town worse off than before.

The authorities should know by now that development, if properly planned, does bring about vast benefits. Otherwise, it would be a step backwards instead of forward.

I don't know whether it is too late to save PD. But the authorities should spare no effort to improve the socio infrastructure in this town.

Money should also be directed at rehabilitating its polluted beaches and improving public facilities. This should, at least, be done concurrently with any plans to put up more steel, cement and structures in PD.

By The Star (by Jagdev Singh)

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