KOTA KINABALU: The diving fraternity of Sabah was shocked when news of the world famous dive site, Paradise Two at Mabul Island was damaged by a giant barge carrying heavy building material heading to Mabul Island for a government project.
When contacted for comments, Mr. Alexander Yee, the president of SEPA – Sabah Environmental Protection Association said “As soon as we received this news, we have called some dive operators operating on Mabul Island to have a better understanding of the ground situation. We are made to understand that the barge is heading to Mabul Island for the construction of a security post to safe guard the islanders and divers around the vicinity. However, the barge used was too large to land on the Island without destroying the coral beneath it.”
“It is surprising that with strict rules put in place, a contractor, especially one engaged by our government can enter an environmentally sensitive area such as Mabul Island and caused such damages.” said Alexander
He is referring to the Environment Protection (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 2005, where the submission of Proposal of Mitigation Measures (PMM) and EIA are mandatory requirements for shoreline development in Sabah under the First and Second Schedules of the Order. The prescribed First Schedule, Item 7 states:
Any other activities which may damage or have an adverse impact on the quality of environment
Para (i) Construction of buildings for public purposes within 200 meters from the high-water mark of the coastal area
“For any shoreline development, an environmental consultant registered with the Environment Protection Department (EPD) has to first conduct an Environmental Assessment report for submission to, and approval by the EPD Sabah prior to project commencement. This is an important technique for ensuring that the likely impacts of the shoreline development activities on the environment are fully understood and taken into account, before any development is allowed to commence” added Alexander
It is unfortunate that this has happened. He urged the relevant authorities to conduct their investigations and ensure that the contractor is taken to task should there be any evidence of recklessness on their part.
To move forward, Alexander has proposed that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment re-instates SEPA involvement in the Environment Protection Department. In the past, SEPA was one of the EIA review panel members within EPD. The presence of SEPA often provided the Department with impartial feedbacks from the general public.