KOTA KINABALU: The new Sabah sub-district of Kiulu is gearing up for a historic visit by Prime Minister Najib Razak tomorrow.
Its state assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai said although Anwar Ibrahim had visited during his tenure as deputy prime minister in the 1990s, this would be the first time a sitting prime minister visits Kiulu.
“This will be a significant and historic visit for Kiulu, coming so soon after it was declared a sub-district just two weeks ago,” Bangkuai said.
He was referring to the state government elevating the area to the status of sub-district on March 6.
According to Bangkuai, Najib is scheduled to visit Kiulu, about 50km from here, to inspect the construction of the RM300 million Telipok-Kiulu-Ranau road.
The Kiulu native said although Najib would spend just over an hour there, the residents were nevertheless eager to give the prime minister a rousing welcome.
“Many Kiulu residents are excited to see him (Najib) and eager to show him the best of Kiulu. He will be coming in by helicopter and he can see for himself how beautiful this place is,” Bangkuai told FMT.
“We are expecting a good turnout of about 5,000 people from the whole of Tuaran.”
Kiulu is one of three state seats in the Tuaran parliamentary constituency, with the other two being Sulaman and Tamparuli.
The 80km Telipok-Kiulu-Ranau road will be the second road link to Ranau.
This particular stretch will cut through Kiulu and is expected to boost the economic standing of villagers, who are mostly farmers.
Although the road starts from the fringes of Kota Kinabalu and ends in Ranau, Bangkuai said Kiulu stood to benefit the most.
“The road is a game changer for us as it will boost the tourism and agriculture industries. It will cut through no less than 20 villages,” he added.
The project, which started in October 2016, is expected to be completed by March next year.
Kiulu, which is smaller than the size of Singapore, lies within the mighty Crocker Range and consists of 105 villages, with a handful located in valleys.
The scenic view of the valleys and peaceful surroundings, as well as its idyllic river, makes Kiulu an attraction for tourists and a hotspot for weekend gatherings and nature adventure seekers.
Najib is expected to officiate a ceremony held along the Kiulu riverside in Kg Pukak.
Bangkuai, who is also the Sabah Tourism Board chairman, expects Kiulu to prosper further after being selected as a pilot project for rural tourism development.
“I want Kiulu to show to the whole of Sabah that rural tourism is really something that can benefit the entire community in terms of job creation and strengthening of the economy.
“We hope to benefit from the RM500 million set aside for homestay development and upgrading of eco-tourism infrastructure, as announced by the prime minister in his 2018 budget.
“Improvements to roads and other basic amenities are crucial to fully tap Kiulu’s tourism potential.”