Published on: Monday, September 23, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) said it has been inundated with calls and emails about continued public access to the beach since the Prime Minister launched the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) on Sept. 16.
"People are understandably concerned, having already experienced losing public spaces to tourism like Pantai Dalit in Tuaran and climbing Mount Kinabalu before the accommodation was privatised and prices rose astronomically.
"Will Tanjung Aru Beach become a playground for only the rich?" asked Sepa President, Lanash Thanda.
According to him, the number one question Sepa was asked is if the public would continue to have access to the beach once the hotels are built.
"It seems the only information the public has had access to is the concept map published in the local newspaper and a giant signboard that states 'Returning Tanjung Aru to the people of Sabah: Rehabilitating the Beach, Regenerating the Park, Rejuvenating Tourism'.
"How can you 'return' something the public already understands they have?
And does this mean that that Prince Phillip Park will be given more space?" he asked.
Most of the concerns, she noted, were raised based on the concept which showed that there would be 10 tourism projects that includes brand name hotels, service apartments and a marina.
"There also seem to be different versions of the concept map with slightly different designs and one which includes a golf course.
"This is the era of public participation, Sepa urges that a Special EIA be conducted due to the sensitivity of this issue," she said.
She said knowing how important Tanjung Aru is for all the people of Sabah, the Government needs to be transparent on the project and Sepa has been informed that an office is in the process of being set up and once it is up, the public can get their answers.
"We have been alerted by experts on water quality and hydrology that due to direct effluent discharge and high erosion factor something needs to be done to ensure the aesthetic beauty of Tanjung Aru is retained and that continued easy public access is ensured for the people of Sabah for future generations," she said.