Road upgrades needed to boost eco-tourism potential in picturesque Kampung Sapit above the clouds

The junction to Kampung Sapit where the roller coaster ride for motorists begins.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 2: The community here in Kampung Sapit is urging the government to improve and upgrade the village’s road infrastructure in order to enhance its eco-tourism potential as the current challenging conditions, particularly steep uphill roads can be difficult to navigate without four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Recognising the growing interest of both domestic as well as foreign visitors in the eco-tourism products offered, Kampung Sapit Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) secretary Jessing Awos hopes that improved road infrastructure will make the village more accessible and attractive to tourists.

Nestled about 1,000 metres above sea level, Kampung Sapit is one of the few Bidayuh villages that sits above the clouds in Padawan. The breathtaking views of the sea of clouds, mesmerising sunrises and sunsets, and pristine forests and mountain peaks make 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.

“One of the major concerns is the challenging road conditions, particularly the steep uphill roads which will require higher horsepower vehicles or 4WD. The drive up is like a roller coaster ride and could create anxiety for some.

“We hope the government can upgrade the road infrastructure, especially near the hilly areas,” he said when interviewed during Sarawak Tourism Board’s (STB) Sarawak Product Experience (SPE) programme for a group of participants recently.

Jessing Awos

Jessing pointed out that the request has been submitted to the Public Works Department (JKR) which has in fact agreed to allocate a budget of RM20 million for the road upgrading project.

However, the allocation and project is still under discussion, and the community hopes that the budget will be approved given the promising potential for tourism expansion in the area.

In addition, Jessing said that a request was also submitted through the N19 Mambong Mini Lab for Greater Kuching Development Coordinated Agency (GKDCA) following an invitation by Deputy Minister of Transport and Mambong assemblyman Datuk Dr Jerip Susil to participate in the discussion session held this year.

“With better road infrastructure, it provides opportunities for local economic involvement and job creation.

“This, in turn, could encourage locals to stay in the village, rather than migrating to cities and towns, in search of better prospects, as the village’s economy would be bolstered by the thriving tourism industry,” he said.

Part of the road going downhill in Kampung Sapit.

Jessing emphasised that the success of the Kiyau and Deremin campsites, which have gained popularity among visitors, even attracting overseas tourists who make the long journey to stay in Kampung Sapit, is a testament to the village’s achievement.

“Apart from the efforts by the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts and STB, we also hope the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and all tourism industry players including travel agents and tour guides will help promote and further develop the eco-tourism products in Kampung Sapit,” he added.

With the potential for expanding eco-tourism in Kampung Sapit within reach, the community eagerly awaits the positive impact that improved road infrastructure could bring to the village and its residents. — DayakDaily

Located almost 1,000 meteres above sea level, Kampung Sapit is known as a village above the clouds in Padawan.