KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has scrapped a controversial plan to build a second bridge across the Kinabatangan River.
The Sabah government's decision to scrap the RM223mil Sukau bridge project was announced in London by Sabah Forest Department chief conservator Datuk Sam Mannan.
Mannan said this during his speech at the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) dinner Thursday held at the Royal Society in London.
"In making this decision, Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Musa Aman has taken into consideration all the concerns and opinions expressed related to the bridge, including those from Yayasan Sime Darby, Nestle, scientists and NGO groups and also the opinion of someone who knows the territory better than anybody else – Sir David Attenborough," Mannan said.
In March, the Guardian newspaper published an article highlighting Sir David Attenborough's concerns over the proposed bridge that would span 350m across the Kinabatangan River, threatening one of the last sanctuaries of the rare Bornean pygmy elephant.
"If I may say so, that headline broke the camel's back," Mannan said.
"It made us understand that the issue of a proposed bridge across a protected area for wildlife is now the number one environmental concern not just in Sabah, but globally too, because of the extremely precarious situation of the rich wildlife therein."
"The Chief Minister of Sabah has taken everyone's views into consideration – including Sir Attenborough - before deciding on this very important issue, and I am pleased to say that balanced development has prevailed," Mannan said, adding that Musa had permitted him to disclose the decision at the gathering.
"We are not going ahead with the bridge," he said.
The proposed Sukau bridge project received strong objections from local and international conservationists who said it would disrupt the migratory route of wildlife and negate wildlife conservation.
The Kinabatangan Conservation Area is described as "Sabah's Gift to the Earth" and has been dubbed the "Corridor of Life".