Progress awakens a sleepy hollow

KOTA KINABALU: Shaking his head as a frown creases his forehead, 80-year-old Yassin Momin stares at the seemingly incessant stream of vehicles passing through the main thoroughfare of his native Sipitang town in Sabah's south west. 

“The cars keep passing non stop day and night. There’s not even a five-minute interval,” sighed the retired fisherman who lives in Kampung Goroh, some 2km from the town. 

But the sight of the non-stop traffic flow is no surprise to people like him. 

Sipitang, some 145kms from Kota Kinabalu, is now part of the Pan Borneo highway that links Sabah to northern Sarawak and Brunei. 

The entrance to Sipitang town which is bustling with traffic after becoming part of the Pan Borneo highway.

Being included as part of the main route to the two neighbouring destinations, there are plans to turn the town around to get visitors from Brunei and Sarawak, passing through the seaside town, to spend more time there. 

For a start, a 400m long espla-nade is being planned and Sabah Assistant Minister of Finance Datuk Sapawi Ahmad is hoping the project can be completed by next year. 

“The esplanade will showcase Sipitang’s beauty. It has a beach that is just a walking distance from the town,” said Sapawi, who is also Sindumin state assemblyman. 

He said Sindumin district, covering an area of 2,732sq kms, would also house more facilities by next year when it hosts the biennial spinning top and grand tamu (farmers’ market) festival. 

Sapawi said the tamu festival last year had attracted more than 40,000 visitors and popularised Sipitang as a gateway to the scenic Long Pasia settlement, also known as the land of the Lundayeh community. 

He said as part of their programme to attract tourists, basic amenities, including water supply, were also being upgraded to cater to the needs of some 30,000 residents there. 

“Some RM19mil will be spent for the upgrading of a water treatment plant at Mesapol, about 5km from Sipitang. 

“The plant is about 50 years old. There is a need to refurbish and expand the plant there.” said Sapawi. 

He said water supply improvement works would also include the construction of additional reservoirs in Tunggul Tinggi and Pantai. 

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