Heritage status for Bukau station in Sabah

Kamarlin (right) launching the North-Borneo Railway Gallery. With him are Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry secretary Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai (left) and Sabah Museum Department director Sintiong Gelet. — STEPHANIE LEE / The Star

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s first railway station has been proposed as a heritage site.

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi said the railway station built in Bukau, Beaufort, was historical and could be another tourist attraction in Sabah.

“Although traces of the 32km track no longer exists, the location itself can still be an attraction as the history of the railway goes hand in hand with the history of the town itself,” he said after launching North-Borneo Railway Gallery at the State Museum here.

According to historical records, the construction of the railway in Sabah that began in 1896 was driven by the success of tobacco and rubber cultivation in the late 1800s and early 1890s.

“Before the existence of the road channel in Sabah, the train that was introduced by the British North Borneo Chartered Company had played an important role in Sabah’s communication system, especially in the west coast,” Kamarlin said.

He said the company also pioneered Sabah’s socio-economic development.

In the past, Kota Kinabalu, which was then known as Jesselton, was connected to rural areas by railways and it became an important seaport.

The railways also helped in the growth of the rubber, timber, agriculture and transport services industries.

Kamarlin hopes that a small gallery exhibiting the historical site of Sabah’s first railway would be constructed exactly where the railway was built to mark the beginning of the train industry in Sabah.

“It is important for us to remember and the younger generation to know how our train service led to economic development, which includes the development of towns and cities such as Weston, Beaufort, Tenom, Papar and Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

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