Furore over stripped Dunlop Street parking
Published on: Monday, July 20, 2020
By: Kan Yaw Chong
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Tawau: A quiet night view of Dunlop Street before guard rails were erected.
PARKING lots along the entire length of famous century-old Dunlop Street Tawau have been stripped with one stroke of the pen. 

After JKR had resealed the “highway” right to the edge of the 5ft way, up to the entire half kilometre stretch from the wharf end right up to the Empress Cinema recently, JKR decided no more parking will be allowed on the dual-carriage way. 

Shopkeepers howled about the spectre of plummeting business like what had befallen town Sandakan – closed shops, one named “Chin” predicted. 

“How are we going to do business now?  Who will ever consider to rent a shoplot again on Dunlop Street?” groused a Tawau-born and bred whose family once operated the most popular coffee shop in town.  

A baffled medical doctor, who owns a clinic on Dunlop Street, said: “What’s the whole logic of this? We already lack parking facilities in town and now they take away even what’s there!”       

Plight brought to the top 

Once again, affected owners brought their plights to Sri Tanjung Assemblyman and Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Jimmy Wong hoping for a magic halt to the parking ban.

Wong met them all and conveyed their worries to the Town Board engineers etc who are actually equally opposed to the JKR move.    

Not listening?

Instead of listening, three weeks ago, a determined JKR confirmed their intended parking ban by erecting what is probably the longest chain of back-to-back iron guard rails in Sabah, maybe in all Malaysia!

So who is the boss of Tawau’s core urban issues and needs? 

JKR or the Tawau Municipal Council who are answerable to the larger community? 

Presumably, JKR engineers are confident that the guard rails will be fail-proof protection for pedestrians and shops should a loaded 10-tonne lorry from the nearby Tawau wharf crash into them.   

The doctor thinks the flimsy guard rails don’t stand a chance, however. 

Instead, there is a standing warning from The Murphy’s Law which says, “what can happen will happen”!  

Wiping out decades old parking facilities  

Given JKR’s insistence thus far, parking bays essential to business and shopping along the whole of the old town Dunlop Street complete with five to six blocks of post war shop lots, will be wiped out soon.

Does it make sense? 

“The whole problem in Sabah is a lot of streets and roads in towns like Tawau and Sandakan are still classified ‘JKR Registered Roads’ since Malaysia until now instead of being surrendered to the local authorities. 

This means federal grants to maintain or upgrade roads including town centre roads go to Federal JKR and maybe filter down to State JKR,” a retired JKR Road engineer pointed out.

So this jurisdictional conflict over town roads between JKR and local authorities creates what looks like a power struggle for control.

“It does not make sense to me you extend a duo-carriage way right up to the edge of a five-foot way in the centre of town because it is dangerous. One question is what is your allowed speed limit?  90km? 100km, ” he said.   

But should JKR maintain a non-negotiable iron-fist control over the road in town for ever?  

DE probe found JKR surrendered city centre roads to DBKK

A probe into the sitution in DBKK or Kota Kinabalu City Hall revealed the contrary. 

A DBKK official cited the example of Jalan Tugu in Kota Kinabalu, which runs from the Wisma Hap Seng through Kampung Air to the roundabout opposite The Horizon Hotel.

“That used to be a Federal Road under JKR but when Datuk Hiew Thien Choi was the Director of JKR Sabah, he surrendered it to DBKK because he reasoned that the public expect parking facilities, cleanliness, landscaping, walkways etc in the heart of town.”

The DBKK official said since the road is in the town centre, there are a lot of public expectations for raising the benefit not the harm. 

“They expect parking and gazetted parking bays, they expect safe pedestrian walks, they expect regular cleaning, they expect landscaping, open space, so we asked Jalan Tugu to be registered under DBKK and Datuk Hiew handed it over to us,” the official said.

Of course, we understand ring roads around town are built to reduce traffic volume in urban centre.

Found: Parking lots mandated at very shop front in KK 

But in view of the bone of contention now raging around taking away all parking bays along the entire shop fronts of Dunlop Street Tawau, a Daily Express photographic shoot last Friday in Kota Kinabalu found that without any exception, parking bays are provided at all shop fronts along every major street like Gaya Street, Beach Street etc. This is something for JKR to take serious note.

Not only that, to ensure safety first, barricaded island kerbs are erected at each and every entry and exit points of all these main streets to guide vehicular traffic away from parked cars, five-foot ways to protect shops and pedestrians.

It is very clear that the streets and public facilities in the Capital City are well-considered and well-designed by good consultants.

Tawau the exception?

But KK is always under intense political and media scrutiny while outlying towns like Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan, among others, are not.               

The time may have come for Tawau to pull up their socks. 

Kota Kinabalu: Main Beach Street in KK – shop front parking lots. 


Note the newly-sealed road on Dunlop Street – is actually higher than the 5ft way. It drenches the 5ft way when it rains, shop keepers complain. Note that soon these vehicles will be barred.


A once parking levy authority erected by Tawau Municipal Council. 



Gone – Tawau Municipal Council parking levy power has been stripped by JKR.


New Guard rails punched near the edge of the 5ft way on Dunlop Street. Will that stop a heavy lorry crashing into pedestrians and shops? (Pic by KFK) 


Shop owners who are unhappy about the parking ban on Dunlop Street meet Jimmy to voice their plight. 


Gaya Street, KK: Provision of parking lots at shop fronts and even on traffic island – a classic example of enhancing the benefit to businesses and the public by DBKK.


A current perspective view of Dunlop Street show that motorists are still clinging to the old freedom to park. But very soon these cars will be banned from parking here.

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December 20, 2014