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Mayor explains Atkinson Clock Tower upgrade project

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KOTA KINABALU (Sept 21): The upgrading of the Atkinson Clock Tower site and Australian Place is a project under the Sabah Development Corridor that was approved in 2009, reviewed in 2020 and approved for construction this year.

Mayor Noorliza Awang Alip said the “Kota Kinabalu City Centre Surrounding Area Upgrading Project: Package 3: Physical Improvement of Atkinson Clock Tower and Australian Place” was funded through allocation under the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia) with Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) as the implementing agency.

The project is slated to be completed in 18 months.

She said the project involved three components, firstly, upgrading the Atkinson Clock Tower site, which included repair works, construction of retaining wall and basic facilities.

Under the project, she said the Observatory Tower at Signal Hill would also be upgraded, as well as construction of a Treetop Walkway connecting the Atkinson Clock Tower and Observatory Tower.

The Mayor said that in a statement on Tuesday in response to Heritage Sabah Society co-founder Jefferi Chang, who was upset that the DBKK has again approved a landscape upgrading project of the clock tower without informing and consulting the public.

Noorliza explained that the main objectives of the project was to upgrade the surrounding area of Atkinson Clock Tower in terms of structural safety by building a permanent retaining wall and drainage system.

She said the project would also provide facilities to visitors, such as a safe and comfortable public space enjoyed by the community, including disabled people (OKU).

Furthermore, she said the upgrading project would improve lighting around the Atkinson Clock Tower and Observatory Tower.

“Overall, the project involves landscaping works, upgrading and improvement of the surrounding area without modification to the structure of the Atkinson Clock Tower.

“The project is expected to take 18 months to complete,” she said.

Chang has said that there were still many questions about the project that demand detailed explanations even though the current project only involved landscape upgrading of the clock tower site.

He said the DBKK and the State Government should have learned from the experience not to disregard public voices and the need for obtaining public input when approving projects where it involved open spaces, buildings and monuments.

In 2010, the DBKK suddenly approved a plan to build a 16-storey commercial building next to the historical clock tower without any public consultation.This caused an outcry that brought many different quarters to join forces to save the clock tower from being overwhelmed by the proposed high-rise building which was expected to severely diminish the intrinsic natural surroundings that had existed for more than 100 years.

Chang said the current landscape upgrade project was not as big and ambitious as the previous plan which both enclosed and included the clock tower as part of the building design but the public was still concerned about the concept drawing that looks stone cold with its concrete wall and lack of trees, which would presumably add to the hot spots in a city that has already been cited in a World Bank report as an example of an excessive rural-urban-temperature-rise-increase in recent times.

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