Masterplan to elevate Bekenu, Lambir, Sibuti unveiled ahead of Niah National Park’s potential Unesco World Heritage listing

Abang Johari (centre) along with Rosey (front, right) and other distinguished guests when launching the "Melanggar Meja" ceremony at Sepupok Niah on May 29, 2024. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 29: A Niah Riverbank Protection Project masterplan, including roads upgrades costing over RM100 million, is set to elevate Subis, Sibuti, Bekenu, Lambir and Niah as Sarawak is optimistic that Niah National Park’s potential inscription as a Unesco World Heritage Site in July will be a game changer for the economy.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, in announcing this, emphasised that Sibuti, including the areas from Bekenu to Niah, will gain global recognition if Niah National Park is granted Unesco World Heritage status.

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“We are in the last lap for the recognition following experts’ evaluation of the Niah Caves. The decision will be made in July (in New Delhi during the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee meeting).

“If it goes through, it will be a world game changer for Subis. This would have a deep impact on our economy, especially in terms of tourism and civilisation,” he said when speaking at the “Melanggar Meja” ceremony in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2024 for Subis District at the open hall of Waterfront Phase 2 in Sepupok Niah here last night (May 29).

Abang Johari emphasised that the government has a long-term, wide-reaching plan to further develop the entire area, including Niah, without encroaching on Niah National Park areas which must retain and preserve its original form.

Elaborating on the masterplan, he mentioned that it includes a wall retention project to prevent riverbank erosion, as well as upgrading major and village roads and Internet coverage, which has been approved by the Sarawak Cabinet.

“This will definitely incur substantial cost. I cannot reveal the cost implications yet due to the tender process for projects.

“For road and junction upgrades towards Bekenu, including Beraya, Kejapil, Trusan, Telahad, Bungai, Tiris, Pejuang, Kelulit, and Sepupok, I can give you an estimate that the whole stretch would cost more than RM100 million,” he said.

Abang Johari emphasised that development must be structured, which will in turn create jobs for local people and expand the services sector, including tourism opportunities.

“It will take time for the development to be implemented, but rest assured that the allocation has been set aside,” he added.

The Premier’s wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Deputy Minister of Women and Childhood Development Datuk Rosey Yunus, Deputy Minister of of Utility Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi and Deputy Minister of Entrepreneur Development Datuk Ripon Lamat were among those present. — DayakDaily

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