The Future of the Pangkor mainland area
Are we on the way to become Butterworth 2 or Klang 2 ?
What does the future of the Pangkor mainland look like? This article looks at the surrounding of Pangkor: Sitiawan, Seri Manjung and Lumut for answers. We will look what is happening right at this moment, January 2011. We will also try to see beyond the destruction that is happening at the moment and see the benefits.
With the appointment of YAB Dato' Seri Dr. Zambry bin Abd. Kadir as Chief Minister of Perak a new chapter is being written for this part of Perak. Mr. Zambry is from Pangkor Island and the people in this area have held high hopes he will bring more economic growth to Pangkor, Lumut, Seri Manjung and Sitiawan.
So, what has happened. The most spectacular event was the selling of Teluk Rubiah (although it is doubtful Mr. Zambry was the architect of this plan.
Teluk Rubiah is sold to a Brazilian iron company, Vale Industries, which is building a factory in the beautiful bay.
Additional a platform is being being build in the Straits of Malacca to serve the huge container ships which can not come to the coast line due to it's shallow waters.
Result is more population, even if the factory itself is 100% clean (which is doubtful).
More ships, more garbage and oil in the water which will have an effect on the fish levels, the quality of the sea water and the beaches of Teluk Batik and Pangkor Island (in fact, the results of increased ships coming to Lumut Harbor is already visible).
The factory will give work to around 4000 people. However, these people are not locals. They will be partly foreign and partly from elsewhere in Malaysia.
Environmental issues are recognized by the government. The statement was made that the factory will be as clean as possible. But nothing was mentioned about the increasing ships visiting. Many of the environmental effects will only show within years
The coming factory will have, in time also an effect on the local jobs in fishing industry and tourism but seem to have been ignored in favor of the grander plan.
The hills that separate Teluk Rubiah and Teluk Batik separate from Seri Manjung are being chopped away in rapid speed.
There are several quarries on all sides of the hills. The claim that the hills that separate Teluk Batik from Teluk Rubiah will "never" be dug out is therefore to be taken with some salt.
The Lumut Powerplant has already shown us a glimpse of the future. Just look at the wasteland around the plant.
It would not have been difficult to create a park here with picnic facilities and tree for the local population to enjoy a Sunday afternoon. Instead, the land is left after the quarry works were finished and transformed in wasteland.
Much of the hills that is now being dug away will transform in housing areas.
On the way to Segari and Teluk Senangin more quarries are operational. According to some, these quarries will supply the basic building materials for the new city to be build. Rumors of such a new city have reached me some years ago but I hardly paid attention to it as nothing in this area happened, until now.
Teluk Senangin itself is rapidly transformed into a new beach area. Hotels are being build here too and on the road to Teluk Senangin several quarries are operational.
Teluk Batik will be the first to suffer from the environmental issues as it lies closest to both the Straits of Malacca, the Teluk Rubiah developments and the increasing amounts of ship.
On the way to Teluk Rubiah (Jalan Teluk Batik) there is a huge quarry "eating" itself through the hills to the other side where another quarry works in the same direction.
Opposite of the quarry on the photo above, another quarry is created. This one is on the hills that separate the Navy base from Jalan Teluk Batik.
At Teluk Batik itself there is a quarry which on and off is being used. I spoke with one of the workers who told me once the quarry work is finished, apartments will be build. At the moment the quarry seems lying dormant.
The Marina Island project is a man made high class island close to Teluk Batik. It is being build right under the smoke of the iron factory of Teluk Rubiah although the factory can not bee seen (yet?).
With the increasing pollution of the seawaters (and here the water is already not too clean) who would want to buy a bungalow or apartment right here? However, when you look over the next 20 years or so, when the hills are dug away and Seri Manjung is as big as Butterworth, the Marina Island might be the choice of living in this area. An exclusive escape for the rich who can afford it. And as long as there is hills covering Teluk Rubiah (with the iron factory out of sight), the Marina Island has a chance.
Lumut can not expand much, there's simply no space but Lumut has been giving a facelift the last few years. The Lumut Waterfront is being built, a new jetty and some housing blocks with shop lots are ready too. The Lumut main street has been upgraded with more shops to lure tourists in buying the local stuff.
The Lumut Port has been growing rapidly over the last few years. This has consequences for the water quality of the beaches. A friend of me recently told me he found the water at Teluk Batik, still quite a few km away, oilier than in the past. It's not surprising when you see the ships coming on and off. And more ships will come.
Damar Laut is located opposite of the Dinding river in Lumut. It's seldom visited by tourists, local and foreigner alike. Therefore it is hardly spoiled. Still, here too a quarry was in use (it's no longer at this moment).
However, with it's location, I can only imagine how long it takes before someone sees the possibilities, starts building houses here, building a bridge over the Dinding to connect it to Lumut and Seri Manjung. Not realistic? We'll see.
Of course Pangkor is not forgotten. The main street of Pangkor Town is now covered, This should help the tourists to shop around without being sunburned! In town a few small hotels have been being build.
There are shop lots build right at the beach. Consequence of course is that the Nipah Beach will no longer be the best beach of Pangkor. For your pleasure you have to go to Coral Beach, 5 minutes walk away.
A new hotel is being build at the far site of Pasir Bogak in the hills, as if there not enough hotels at Pangkor. (photo left)
Instead of investing in attractions for Pangkor Island, again the investors make the in my humble opinion crucial mistake to build more shopping lots and hotels. There are plenty of both. The island could use some additional attractions.
At the moment of writing, December 2011, Teluk Segadas is untouched. However, in 2012 this all will change. The so called "idle lands" (121ha) will be transformed into a new tourist area. Those who know Teluk Segadas will frown. Me too.
Teluk Segadas is a very small beach with not a lot of sand and it's only assessible by a small jungle path. Conclusion must be that all the jungle will disappear and even parts of the surrounding rocky hills will disappear too. Here is more about those plans.
Beach and jungle garbage
As I regularly go into the jungle around Teluk Batik and visit the several beaches in the area I find one thing amazing. There is garbage everywhere.
Some garbage comes from open sea, dropped by ships (including oil), But other garbage is simply left by visitors of the jungle. On a steep path I regular hike someone someone even left his broken sports shoes.
Plastic bottle and rubbish can be found in even remote areas in the hills. People do come here and people don't seem to care to keep the beach and forests clean.
The Seri Manjung government has recently said they will continue cleaning the tourist beaches. That however is only part of the problem.
The Australian International School from Kuala Lumpur has done some beach cleaning and although we only managed to do half the beach, the results were massive... dozens of garbage bags were filled.
We have informed the Seri Manjung government to pick these bags up but 2 weeks after we put the garbage in plastic bags, the Manjung government has not send a boat (it's only possible to collect by boat as there's only a small jungle path to this particular beach. In reality, they have never send a boat and no one further bothered to look. Nowadays, mid 2012, the area of off limits for visitors so it's unclear what the present situation is.
The Australian School from KL cleaned up this beach only to get it more polluted
by the arrival of the Iron Ore at Teluk Rubiah. This beach is no longer officially accessible.
Infrastructure is at the moment for Seri Manjung and Sitiawan not sufficient to handle to future. The motorway from Ipoh to Sitiawan/Lumut has been upgraded but there are no good and fast connections to both Kuala Lumpur and Penang (and both will be needed in the near future).
I expect soon a plan will come to build a highway along the coast, basically upgrading the part from Teluk Intan to Klang and building a whole new piece right through the northern part of Perak (including through Kuala Sepetang and the bird sanctuary). With the coming invasion of new people, new roads will be sorely needed.
Information has reached me that the old never finished road in between Teluk Rubiah and Teluk Batik will be build within the next few years. Considering the amount of workers expected to work in the iron factory I expect it will be a 4 lane road right through the hills which were said to be left untouched.
I have seen the area changing in the last 6 years from very local rural countryside towns to a more industrial area. You only have a look at the Lumut Port to see how fast the industry picked up the potentials.
However, the consequence of this development is also that a lot of destruction is taken place. In the Seri Manjung/Sitiawan area there are about a dozen quarries in operation, all with proper licenses.
Looking at the "development" at Teluk Rubiah, it makes sense. The workers in the factory need houses, so building houses is a prime target.
As the hills offer the building blocks, they are been dug away to create space for new housing areas. Plantations are disappearing too.
Supermarkets rise out of the ground as if we are already living in megacity. Giant and Tesco are almost opposite of each other and several other supermarkets like Econsave, Billion and the Store are longer in operation.
New shop lots are being build almost everywhere. It's just a matter of time and all nature and beauty will be history.
My prediction is that Seri Manjung, Sitiawan and Lumut soon, within 5 years will be a megacity like Butterworth including all the pollution that this brings too.
Do not get me wrong, I am not against progress for the people. Everyone wants to have a better life for their children. But progress, even though it always comes with a price, could be created in a far more sustainable way than it is now being processed.
Am I exaggerating? Is the future of Seri Manjung and Sitiawan really that bad? Will it be transformed into a new Butterworth? a new Klang? a new Johor Bahru? I do think so. Another beautiful piece of Malaysia is lost, forever. Instead we have here more "development", more houses and asphalt, more industry and with the harbor, everyone will profit. Or not?