THE Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) wants the Environmental Interpretive Centre (EIC) in Sepang to be declared a heritage building.
“This is our final bullet,” said MNS president Henry Goh on the society’s last bid to save the building and surrounding mangroves.
Following StarMetro’s report on “Mangrove Forest To Make Way For Road Upgrade”, the society has written to the National Heritage Department (JWN) to preserve the building.
In reply, JWN legacy list director Mohamad Muda Bahadin said it would proceed with prestudies on the building to assess its historical significance and value.
According to the letter, a site visit was made on May 23 for this purpose.
The ceiling beams have visible rough marks possibly indicating they were cut using a push-pull long handsaw commonly used over a century ago.
On the building’s historical significance, MNS vice-president Vincent Chow had written in the Malaysian Naturalist, a magazine published by the society, that the building was constructed in 1892, dating it as 126 years old.
Chow added that proof of this could be seen from the building’s ceiling beams. The visible rough marks on the beams indicate they may have been cut using a push-pull long handsaw commonly used during that era.
Another bit of evidence was the stack of dismantled earthen roof tiles, believed to have been imported from Marseilles, France, between 1890 and 1914. The dates can be found on the reverse side of the tiles.
Before EIC moved into the building, it was occupied by the assistant district officer who used it for administration purposes, said Chow. It later served as the Sepang police headquarters.
On whether EIC would make it into the heritage list, Mohamad Muda has yet to reply.
Sepang District Land Office (PDT Sepang) issued a notice to EIC to vacate the site within 30 days from July 20. However, a recent check with EIC education officer Sashikala Manikam confirmed that the occupants are still at the centre.
She said a meeting at the Selangor state exco office decided the centre would remain until JWN came back with an answer.
The earthen roof tiles are believed to have been imported from Marseilles, France between 1890 and 1914.
The meeting called by the Public Works Department (JKR) was attended by PDT Sepang, Selangor Forestry Department and project consultants SHR Associates.
It was chaired by Selangor Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian.
In response to StarMetro’s queries on a possible diversion of Jalan Salak Besar to avoid the mangroves, Selangor Infrastructure and Agriculture Committee chairman Izham Hashim said amendments have been made to reduce the number of trees to be cut to preserve the existing ecosystem.
From 125 trees, only 41 will be felled to make way for construction works. To protect the surrounding areas of Sepang town from silting, the contractor, under JKR’s supervision, will implement erosion and sediment controls throughout the project.
Removed top soil will be replaced and a protective barrier set up to minimise soil erosion.
On whether construction work can be carried out without touching the EIC building and the mangroves, Izham said the current proposed route is the best option for now. He explained that if the EIC building was to remain, the entire row of shops on the left and right side of Jalan Salak Besar in Sepang town would have to make way for the land reclamation process as the existing road reserves are insufficient for expansion.
There were also suggestions for upgrades to be halted at the B48 and FT5 junction, but Izham said this would only worsen traffic congestion as there would be a bottleneck heading towards Taman Murni.
“It is the state government’s conclusion that the current construction plan for the road widening project is the most effective solution, and one which will have the least impact to the local population for now,” he said.
The land, formerly owned by Sepang Gold Coast, was sold to Permodalan Negeri Selangor (PNSB) and now gazetted as a road reserve.
MNS came into the picture when it submitted a proposal to the former landowner to set up a nature education centre in 2007.