KOTA KINABALU: Since the Prime Minister launched the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) on the 16th of September 2013, Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) has been inundated with calls and emails asking about continued public access to the beach.
“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 Lanash Thanda the President of SEPA.
The number one question SEPA is being asked is if the public will continue to have access to the beach once the hotels are built according to Lanash.
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?” Lanash said sharing just some questions that have been posed.
Most concerns she noted was raised based on the concept, which shows that that they will be 10 tourism projects that include brand name hotels, service apartments and a marina. They 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.” stated Lanash.
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. To ensure public participation and transparency, Lanash urges the government to quicken the setting up of this office so the public concerns can be addressed.
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,” concluded Lanash.