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Fast growing Sipitang beckons visitors
Published on: Sunday, July 07, 2019
By: David Thien

SIPITANG: Sipitang town, the largest Sabah township close to the Sarawak border, has witnessed significant changes and commercial and industrial development over the past two decades. 

With a population of more than 50,000 now comprising predominantly Kedayan, Lundayeh/Lun Bawang, Murut and Brunei Malay communities, the town, located some 150km from Kota Kinabalu, has grown much bigger. 

From a mere simple stopover town for the public travelling between Sabah and Sarawak, there are now notably more commercial centres, hotels, motels and home-stay accommodations. 

These can be found even as far as the off-road beaten track to Long Mio and Long Pasia some 125km south before the Indonesian Kalimantan border, accessible off the hill-ascending road to Tenom.

With a port for exporting paper and other products including fertilisers, there are deer husbandry ventures for venison meat, even satay, in the hinterland besides other crops. Sipitang’s satay has acquired a reputation like Kajang satay in Peninsular Malaysia.

Soon Sipitang will enjoy its own development blueprint to drive its socio-economic development in synergy with Sabah’s industrial plan.

There are plans to further improve the port, jetty, bulk storage tank, housing, palm oil mill and refinery, and green energy plant for RM2.13 billion.

Sipitang, as a nascent tourism destination, is growing in reputation for seasonal fruits like durian and all year-round satay food galore, even before the current Pan Borneo Highway Project was initiated. 

After its expected completion, Sipitang’s annual Gasing Festival and Tamu Besar will see more visitors from other places.

The local employment drop hiccup over the fate of the Sabah Forest Industry (SFI) operation and its potential in future recovery action by new investors is set to enhance the business atmosphere after 2020, with the advent of the oil and gas sector to open up employment opportunities.  

The district’s hospital can be staffed and upgraded to serve nearby districts and Sarawak’s Lawas.

More Sarawakians, Bruneians and others are taking more time to appreciate the ambience of the seaside Bay of Brunei located in town with its refreshing esplanade, with added options of exploring the Crocker Range townships of Tenom and Keningau up hill.

Unlike Tenom with its famed Lagud Seberang Agriculture Centre and Murut Cultural Centre, Sipitang is not linked to the Sabah State Railway network from Beaufort since the colonial days. 

But it is an industrialising town, being one of Sabah’s oil and gas industry centres, where an oil and gas industrial park if fully operational. With the Petronas’ Sabah ammonia and urea plant, the future looks rosy and more people will be staying awhile if not longer in Sipitang with its charms and potential.

 



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