Sarawak Premier Pledges Major Development for Niah if UNESCO Heritage Status Approved

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Government to Develop Niah if It Becomes a UNESCO Heritage Site: Abang Johari

Sarawak Premier Pledges Major Development for Niah if UNESCO Heritage Status Approved
Sarawak Premier Pledges Major Development for Niah if UNESCO Heritage Status Approved

Sarawak Premier Unveils Ambitious Development Plans

SEPUPOK, NIAH: The state government has outlined a comprehensive development plan for Niah Town, contingent upon the successful nomination of Niah Cave as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The announcement came from Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg at the Subis District Aidilfitri 2024 Table Breaking Ceremony on Wednesday night.

Preservation of Authenticity and Strategic Development

Abang Johari emphasized that the Niah River Bank Protection Project Master Plan would not encroach upon the cave area to maintain its authenticity. Instead, development efforts will be focused on areas outside the UNESCO heritage site, specifically on the opposite side of the river.

“The development will take place outside the UNESCO heritage site area, on the other side of the river, instead of developing the cave itself,” Abang Johari stated.

Comprehensive Infrastructure Projects

The Premier detailed the Niah River Bank Protection Project Master Plan, which includes road development, erosion control, and improvements to village roads. The project is expected to incur significant costs, though exact figures were not disclosed. However, Abang Johari confirmed that funding has been approved in principle at the cabinet level.

Connectivity and Internet Upgrades

As part of the broader development strategy, the government plans to enhance road connectivity from Bekenu to Niah, with an allocation of over RM100 million. This initiative will integrate with the Niah River Bank Protection Project Master Plan. Additionally, efforts will be made to upgrade internet access to facilitate better connectivity for tourists and visitors.

Additional Development Initiatives

The state government also intends to undertake several smaller projects, including the Bekenu Waterfront connection, the construction of the Kampung Bulau Bekenu Bridge, and the establishment of new housing schemes.

Anticipated UNESCO Recognition and Its Impact

Abang Johari expressed confidence in Sarawak’s chances of securing UNESCO recognition for Niah Cave, highlighting the initiative as crucial for strengthening heritage protection and promoting world-class conservation practices. He noted that such recognition would significantly boost Sarawak’s international profile and positively impact the local community and surrounding areas.

Niah Cave, a 3,138-hectare national park comprising limestone hills and forests, has been a National Historical Monument since 1958 and a national park since 1975.

Event Highlights and Dignitaries Present

The Table Breaking Ceremony saw Abang Johari presenting awards to the winners of the event, with Kampung Subak Jaya taking first place, followed by Kampung Penjuang Kelulit and Kampung Lajong. The event was attended by prominent figures including Abang Johari’s wife Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industries and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, and other dignitaries.

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