Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Old Tawau Airport, what next?

The Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Dr. Hiew King Cheu visited the old Tawau airport last Sunday during the state round tour of the DAP mobile service. The concern Tawau folks wanted the MP to find out what is the government going to do with this long abandon airport. This airport is used to be the main airport serving the Tawau area until the new airport is in use.

Dr. Hiew said that this is a Federal matter, and the old Tawau Airport should be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport. He said he can bring this matter up with the Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat in the coming Parliament sitting on the 15th June, to enquire about the decision on the abandon airport.

The old airport is sited just by the side of the Tawau town centre and it covers a total area of 300 over acres. It is next to the town and it is a waste to leave it abandon like this, claimed one of the complainers. In order to make good use of the old airport which is still in good condition, both the building and the runway strip, Dr. Hiew suggested that the flying club and its school to make use of the airport for their flying training courses. The old airport can also be converted to house the hospital emergency helipad for helicopters bringing in patients from the rural district for emergency medical treatment. This is because the Tawau General Hospital is just one kilometer away. Besides, it is important to consider the possibility to move the highly congested bus terminal away from the town centre to this airport location. This will help to ease the traffic congestion of the town too. Since the bus terminal is also part of the responsiblity of the Federal Transport Ministry, this can be easily arranged.

There are many other viable proposals for the conversion of the old airport land to proper usage that can bring benefit to the Tawau folks, and it should only be use for public purpose only. Hiew said that he was told that some private companies wanted to take over the 300 acres for private development. He hopes the government will not approve this type of personal gain proposal. The peoples’ interest must be protected and promoted.

On the new Tawau airport, it is surprise to see that there are so many items on the list which needed immediate attention by the Malaysia Airport Bhd. (MAB). The air conditioning system in the boarding waiting hall is out of service about one and a half months now, and there is no sign of its repair. There are only two stand-fans blowing the hot waiting room. The lighting is not enough, and it is so dark at places because many lights are not switch on. Are they trying to safe money? There is complaint that the canteen closed at 5pm and passenger can’t get to buy food and drinks, the time must follow the flight schedules. Besides, the toilets are not clean and the floor tiles are torn off. The MAB has to immediately put right the situation in the airport, due to Tawau airport is the important tourist gateway.

Dr. Hiew King Cheu. KK MP