“3 proposed Pan Borneo routes threaten biodiversity-rich Tawai Forest Reserve”

SABAH Public Works Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya said its ministry has identified three alternative routes that would not pass through the Tawai Forest Reserve in Telupid but further scrutiny is needed due to various factors.

“We are currently reviewing and waiting for a State Cabinet meeting to get their endorsement on what would be the final decision on the matter,” he told reporters during an appreciation ceremony for his ministry personnel at the Pacific Sutera Hotel yesterday (Oct 27).

Conservationists have called on the government to avoid a 30km stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway project cutting through the biodiversity-rich Tawai Forest Reserve, with concerns of increased fire, haze and smoke risk in the forest.

In central Sabah’s Telupid area, Sabah’s forest protectors express worry over the proposed route of the Pan Borneo Highway which may intersect with the biodiverse Tawai Forest Reserve.

Sabah Forests chief conservator Datuk Frederick Kugan told the media that these concerns have been conveyed to the project authorities.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that if no alternative route is feasible, measures for mitigation should be established to minimise the environmental consequences.

“We (feel) it is best to avoid the forest reserve,” The Star quoted him as saying.

Reports stated that the Sabah government is expected to make a decision soon on whether to go ahead with the planned route or adopt an alternative one that avoids the reserve.

The Sabah Pan Borneo Highway project involving 35 work packages along 706 kilometres, starting from the border of Sabah and Sarawak in Sindumin up to Tawau, started in July 2016.

In September 2023, His Majesty undertook a visit to Borneo Island, a journey famously known as the “Kembara Borneo”.

During this journey, the King inspected the remaining Pan-Borneo Highway projects, commencing the journey in Tawau, Sabah, and concluding it in Telok Melano, Lundu, Sarawak.

The primary objectives of the King’s Kembara Borneo expedition were to experience driving on the Pan-Borneo Highway and gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of Borneo’s unique culture and environment. – Oct 28, 2023


Main photo credit: The Star

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