KOTA KINABALU: New squatters mushrooming around the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Ramsar site will be demolished soon, says Datuk Noorliza Awang Alip.
The Kota Kinabalu mayor said this amid concerns raised by environmentalists that the Ramsar status for the city's wetland area might be lost with the growing number of squatters in the area.
She, however, said that they had been constantly taking action to demolish the squatters through integrated operations with other agencies but the squatters were rebuilt.
"Originally, there were more than 50 squatter houses in the area. We have carried out operations with other enforcement agencies to demolish the houses over the years.
“The number of squatters increased over the last two years as demolition operations were not carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
"The squatter houses also increased as there were several ongoing major construction projects in the nearby area," she said.
On June 23, Norliza said a total of 210 demolition notices under the city's Housing (Building) By-laws 1951 were issued to the squatters.
She said a demolition exercise was carried out between July 8 and 9 by City Hall and other agencies including police, Immigration, National Security Council, as well as the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd and Water Department.
“New squatters have been rebuilt in the areas where the houses were demolished two months ago,” she said.
Local environmentalists highlighted their concerns over the squatters who had been clearing trees in the wetland area to build their houses in the 24.2ha wetland site.