KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has given the green light for the reclamation of the state's iconic Tanjung Aru beachfront but has to come out with development plans under the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor confirmed that the government has agreed to a 15-year contract to mine and dredge sand for the reclamation of the beachfront in efforts to widen it.
He said that though plans have yet to be proposed and decided on the Tanjung Aru development, the sand dredging contract was signed to allow for the reclamation of the beachfront and not the development.
“We want to reclaim the beach, so we will propose the (beach development) plans for discussion in Cabinet.
"We will improve the beach and expand Prince Philip Park from 22 acres to 100 acres if agreed by the Cabinet,” he told reporters here Tuesday (Jan 3) after handing out cash aid to 36 victims whose homes were destroyed by the Dec 24 high tide phenomenon.
TAED had recently signed a contract with Handal Borneo Resources Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Handal Energy for extraction and sales of marine sea sand at the Sunken Barrier Shoal, Hayter Shoal and Bunbury Shoal northwest of the city.
According to news reports, 153 million cubic metres of sand would be mined for reclamation projects and recreational beaches.
The TAED came back into controversy in recent weeks with beachgoers complaining the area was fast becoming a wasteland as TAED had only been collecting parking fees into the area with few amenities provided.
Beachgoers complained that TAED was just cashing in on the popularity of the beach but did little to allow public access into the area to have their family picnics and barbecues.
A proposed multi-billion ringgit tourism development plan was launched by the then-Barisan Nasional-led state government in 2016.
But, the project remains controversial and subsequent state governments have yet to come out with clear plans for the area known for its spectacular sunsets.
Many local citizens have been urging the state government to abandon TAED's upgrading or rehabilitation plans and give the public free access to the beach.
Since taking over the state government in 2020, Hajiji said that the initial plans for TAED would be downsized.