Squatter structures sitting on prime land in KK to be demolished

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan (left) talking to one of the squatters at a state Fisheries Department land in Kota Kinabalu on Friday.

KOTA KINABALU: Squatter structures built on 61 hectares of prime land belonging to the Fisheries Department in Sepanggar will be demolished soon.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the land is part of 150 hectares belonging to the department earmarked for development projects in the Greater Kota Kinabalu area.

“This will include large-scale projects by the current administration to develop a smart city on this land. This issue has been decided and agreed upon by the state Cabinet,” said Kitingan.

The state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister said that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government is serious about developing the land and ensuring that it is not encroached upon by squatters.

Speaking after visiting the squatters in the self-proclaimed Kg Warisan in Sepanggar, Jeffrey said that around 800 illegal structures dot the land and added that several structures are hidden deep within the mangrove forests, making it difficult for the authorities to enforce the law.

He added that electricity theft is rampant in the area and most of the live cables are buried underground, putting enforcement personnel at risk of electrocution whenever they attempt to access these squatters.

Apart from Kg Warisan, squatters in the areas have organised themselves in two other squatter villages, namely Kg Berunai and Kg Juara.

“They have actually tried several times to get the government to recognise them as official villages. But this cannot be allowed because the land belongs to the Fisheries Department,” said Kitingan.

“Several demolition exercises have been carried out in the past, but people can be tenacious. The government demolished several structures only to see new structures replacing them in a matter of months,” he added.

During his visit, Kitingan also met with several squatters in the area and advised them not to allow any more people to build homes there because the structures will be demolished anyway and informed them of the government’s plan for the land.

“We must safeguard our assets, but we must also consider the plight of genuine Sabahans who live there. I understand that some of the squatters include government servants too,” he said.

At the same time, Kitingan urged the Fisheries Department to submit proposals on how to fully utilise the land once it has been cleared of squatters.

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