HISTORIC RAIN TREES WON'T BE CUT DOWN FOR ROAD PROJECT IN KOTA KINABALU, SABAH
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH (April 13, 2023): The centuries-old row of five rain trees in Kasigui, Donggongon, will not be cut down to make way for a road widening project as previously purported.
Penampang Member of Parliament Datuk Ewon Benedick said this following a Penampang District Action Committee meeting on Thursday morning, where they discussed the matter.
“I was informed during the meeting that the Public Works Department (JKR)’s current road widening plans will not involve or affect the five rain trees.
“That was the explanation given to us by JKR and I hope the decision stays,” he said during a swearing-in ceremony of Penampang District Councillors at a hotel here on Thursday.
Penampang District Officer Francis Chong, when met by reporters, clarified that the original JKR plan had required the historic trees to be chopped down for the project.
It was said that the road widening project will be part of the Pan Borneo Highway.
As of April 13 this year, that plan was overturned and adjusted, possibly due to the massive backlash by historians, local leaders, environmentalists and concerned citizens.
According to a news report, the five trees, some 65 to 100 years old and two stories high, were planted by the British administration after the war to provide shade.
Known as Hujan-Hujan trees or by its scientific name Samanea Saman, they sit on the roadside of the main Penampang road, coming down from Moyog and Tambunan.
They are considered a historic landmark by many locals as they are situated in Kasigui square, which used to be a bustling town and marketplace.
Now a shell of its former shelf, all that is left in the area is a small marketplace, a coffee shop and the five rain trees.
Local leaders, including former Penampang Member of Parliament Datuk Philip Lasimbang and Moyog assemblyman Datuk Darell Leiking, had voiced out against the road expansion project which would remove the trees, stressing that all factors should be considered when developing an area.
Some like Ewon’s Political Secretary Carl Moosom, had opined that the people have to accept the reality that sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made in order to bring development.
Not only leaders, but locals who share fond memories of the surrounding area and environmental activists were also heavily against the project, some arguing that the trees are a precious part of history that should not be destroyed.
Most recently in January this year, a group of villagers had staged a peaceful protest at the location against the removal of the trees.
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