AG’s report highlights dismal facilities at Bako National Park

Bako National Park is one of Sarawak's top tourist attractions. Photo from Sarawak Tourism Board.

KUCHING, Nov 29: One of the state’s top tourist attractions, Bako National Park, has poorly maintained facilities with some forest lodge facilities and hostels being closed since 2004 due to safety reasons.

Even the limited rooms available for tourists are poorly maintained with broken facilities, damaged furniture and leaking ceilings.

Two other national parks — Bukit Lambir National Park and Miri Niah National Park — are in a similar terrible state. Also, the staff quarters have been found to be in a dilapidated state that makes them unsafe to live in.

The terrible state of these national parks meant to attract tourists are highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report 2016 Series 2, which had also suggested to immediately rectify the problem as it will adversely affects the income of the national parks.

Photos showing the dilapidated facilities at Bako National Park taken from the Auditor-General’s Report 2016 Series 2.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFC) which manages the state’s national parks had replied to the Auditor-General (AG) that they would apply for RM25 million through the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources’ 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK-11) mid-term review, for upgrade and maintenance work in 2018 and 2019.

SFC management has replied that insufficient funding was the main reason, so they had focused on fixing lodging houses for visitors to ensure guests’ safety.

SFC had also acknowledged that they had destroyed some RM136,227 worth of property in 2016 but the permit was only acquired in Feb 2017. The management stressed they would refrain from repeating the same mistake again.

In addition, SFC will apply for a new permit to destroy many goods that had been applied to be cleared but remain in the storage until today.

The poor accommodation facilities which are in need of upgrades is one of the major complaints regarding Bako National Park which can be found on Trip Advisor.

SFC’s financial performance on the other hand, has been satisfactory with RM18.6 million in accumulated income in 2016. They had acquired RM9.93 million in pre tax income in the year of 2016, which was a significant improvement compared to previous years, i.e. 2014 (RM2.06 million loss) and 2015 (RM3.33 million loss).

The AG also recommended SFC to have sufficient funding to maintain facilities and destroyed damaged assets for proper management and also set up an independent internal audit department to ensure proper management of the national parks. — DayakDaily