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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, June 2: Kampung Sapit, known for its picturesque landscapes and eco-tourism offerings, is seeking financial support from Sarawak government and elected representatives to upgrade and maintain its “tanju” or bamboo decks at various privately-owned campsites as well as the bamboo step-ons and bridges along the hiking trails.
Kampung Sapit Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) secretary Jessing Awos explained that campsite operators are currently using their own capital, including fees collection, to develop and maintain the facilities around the campsites and hiking trails.
However, the operators and the JKKK managing the tourism products are facing a significant challenge with the durability of the bamboo decks.
“The bamboo structures can only last for one year before needing replacement, which would incur high costs as we will need to engage not only local villagers but also Indonesian workers to harvest and process the bamboo for flooring use.
“Another major obstacle in this endeavour is the limited supply of mature bamboo, which takes two to three years to grow,” he said when interviewed during Sarawak Tourism Board’s (STB) Sarawak Product Experience (SPE) programme for a group of participants recently.
With that, Jessing emphasised the need for assistance to ensure the sustainability and growth of the local tourism sector, especially for Kampung Sapit which holds great promise as an eco-tourism destination with its unique location above the clouds in Padawan.
He proposed upgrading the tanju with pillar structures using belian wood and support trusses using selangan batu wood, while the flooring will continue to utilise bamboo to retain the authenticity and closeness to nature in the construction.
“This design is estimated to last for approximately 10 years. We understand that using steel frames would be a cheaper alternative but we hope to retain the authenticity by utilising natural materials in the construction,” he said.
Jessing added that last year, they submitted a request for grant to Deputy Minister of Transport and Mambong assemblyman Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, but the grant has yet to be received.
“We will submit the request again this year. I will include the five campsites in the paperwork. We are hoping to get RM5,000 for each campsite to facilitate the tanju upgrades,” he said.
Furthermore, the village has also requested funding to repair and maintain the hiking trail leading to the Malaysia-Indonesia border peg, which at some parts are laid with bamboo step-ons that will deteriorate and need to be replaced.
According to Jessing, some areas would require about 1,000 bamboo step-ons, apart from bamboo to build bridges to cross small rivers.
“We need to pay wages for people such as our village tour guides to get them done as this is also part of the committee’s responsibilities. Now we are relying on entrance fees collected from visitors to maintain the facilities and infrastructure,” he added.
In addition to infrastructure upgrades, Kampung Sapit is eager to work with STB and other tourism agencies to create more captivating and enticing tourism products that would provide tourists and visitors with unique experiences that will leave them in awe.
Acknowledging their relative inexperience in the tourism industry, they are eager to receive training and support, including in accounting and management, to enhance their capabilities as well as explore opportunities for further tourism development in Kampung Sapit.
“Perhaps STB or other tourism agencies can help us to create more interesting and attractive products with the ‘wow’ factor. We hope to attract a larger number of visitors here.
“We also want to invite our Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Tiong King Sing to visit and explore the eco-tourism products available here. Maybe he will provide us some funding,” he said with optimism.
Nestled about 1,000 metres above sea level, Kampung Sapit offers breathtaking views of the sea of clouds, mesmerising sunrises and sunsets, and pristine forests and mountain peaks, making it a sought-after destination for camping and hiking activities. The village is conveniently located just a 90-minute drive away from Kuching city, further adding to its appeal. — DayakDaily