Expand others but leave KKIA alone
Published on: Sunday, December 01, 2019
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According to your report “ Upgrade road before relocating KKIA: LDP” (DE 28/11/2019), there are various important issues linked to the existing KKIA when some people are thinking that KKIA be moved away from Kota Kinabalu.

There had been talk of moving KKIA some decades ago and it is still useful and serve the good purpose for the travellers local and foreign alike. 

One of the reasons given for moving KKIA away was that KK could not have buildings of more than twelve storeys. But now we have some buildings (new ones also coming up) of 25 storeys in CBD.

There was later another excuse to move the KKIA because of TAED at Tanjung Aru Beach. If TAED had been applied with massive reclamation, the KKIA would be in a valley in between TAED and the Kepayan hills and the said valley likely be flooded in heavy rain downfalls.

Also there are many upcoming luxurious hotels and resorts in and around Kota Kinabalu and so more essential that KKIA remains where it is. Travellers would be too tired to come to KK in search of living accommodation if the new “KKIA” be in Kuala Penyu and there-about. Such new airport so far away from KK would deter tourists to come to KK especially the road infrastructure linking the new airport is not in place even with the completion of Pan Borneo highway.

Further it would be a deterrent for local travel within Sabah to go down so far to Kuala Penyu to fly to Sandakan and Tawau while retaining KKIA for local travel alone can be unsustainable. Any international airport would need to be a connecting destination for both local and international travel for feasible convenience in terms of costs and time.

Instead of moving KKIA down south as Sabah is a tourists destination, it would be more advantageous to make more international airports in Sandakan, Tawau and another in the interior of Sabah with enlarged facilities for increasing tourists to Sabah. KKIA at its present location can increase its handling of tourists when a fair spread across Sabah is done to avoid peak arrivals or departures. In this way tourism would be better serviced across Sabah although KKIA remains the major gateway for tourists in Borneo even when the Indonesian capital moves to Kalimantan.

I hope due consideration be accorded to our air travel for travellers especially it would be much more convenient from East Sabah to west Sabah or vice versa with the prompt completion of Pan Borneo Highway as there is so much to see on the road travel. Also in this way our hinterland in Sabah would be getting some economic returns. Also the mixed mobility by air, sea and the roads would be much to be achieved for sightseeing of tourism hotspots in Sabah.

Should a much better airport be required around KK as the proven achievable gateway to Borneo and for easy access, would Gaya Island be considered as an airport destination given that China had built a massive airport on reclaimed Spratly island so near to Kota Kinabalu.

I think when we think of infrastructure in Sabah since 1963, money or adequate funds is the fundamental issue as it is lacking whenever the need arises. Talking of the many billions of tourism earnings annually, the will of the Federal and State Governments to implement the much needed infrastructure should prevail.

Joshua Y C Kong

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