Diving haven saved, clubhouse project terminated immediately

By Muguntan Vanar

KOTA KINABALU: Finally, firm action is being taken to protect the rich, yet fragile, marine eco-system of the diving haven of Pulau Sipadan.

The contract for the controversial RM4.5mil clubhouse project on Sipadan has been terminated with immediate effect, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said after a state Cabinet meeting yesterday. He also ordered a management revamp of Sabah Parks, the state government agency that oversees all gazetted parks and islands, including Sipadan and Mount Kinabalu. Musa said the Sipadan project would be reviewed under a totally new concept, and “I will take charge of it.”

“We will obtain the approval of the Prime Minister on a revised project for Sipadan,” he said.

He said the state Cabinet decided on restructuring Sabah Parks management because of its poor handling of the Sipadan project. It also bungled the project involving the construction of a rest house on Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage.

Contractor Kumpulan Surati Sdn Bhd undertook the Sipadan project, including the building of a sewage facility. But it came under severe criticism when a barge ran aground, scraping off coral reefs on a patch the size of two tennis courts on May 14. The contractor apologised and was ordered to clean up the building material that fell into the sea.

Musa halted work on the project but later said that the Cabinet had decided to allow the project to continue, but scaled down and using environmentally friendly materials. He came under fire from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Musa said the new development concept would involve only the building of toilets and a small rest area for divers.

Source: Nation, The Star, 3rd August 2006