Sabah committed to solving squatter issue, says Shafie

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (second left) visiting the site of the fire in Kg Cendermata II in Likas.

KOTA KINABALU: The Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government is committed to solve the squatter problem in Sabah.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, who is the Warisan president, said this was among the promises made in the party’s election manifesto.

“We are planning a long-term solution to overcome the squatter issue in Sabah but we need to plan it in detail first.

“We don’t want more locals living in squatter areas. This is not only happening in Kota Kinabalu but also Sandakan and Tawau (among others). But I am aware this issue can’t be solved in one or two years.

“These were among the points we mentioned during the recent election. (But) it will take some time,” he said after visiting Kg Cenderamata II fire victims at the temporary fire relief centre in Likas here today.

Shafie said the Cenderamata II squatter village, like any other squatter village, was congested and the electricity cables were probably in a mess.

Shafie (centre) handing out food aid to fire victims at the temporary relief centre in Likas.

“I have asked the Kota Kinabalu City Hall to look into this. But this is only a short-term solution,” he said.

A total of 783 people, including foreigners, were left homeless after a fire swept through the squatter settlement yesterday.

“Of the 700 over fire victims, about 600 are locals. Because this hall is quite small, we will move the victims to other centres for their comfort, safety and health.

“We need to ensure the children and senior citizens who need medical attention are attended to by the health ministry from both the state and federal level,” said Shafie who also handed food aid to the victims.

The state’s Local Government and Housing Minister Jaujan Sambakong said last month that the new government was coming up with a plan to deal with squatter settlements in Sabah.

Shafie visiting fire victims at the temporary relief centre in Likas.

After visiting victims who were also left homeless after a fire in a squatter settlement in Sandakan, Jaujan said while the incident was unfortunate, fires at squatter settlements were common in the state.

This was due to houses being built too closely together, thus, posing a serious fire hazard, he added.

A total of 1,113 people lost their homes after 147 houses were destroyed in the blaze in Kampung Gas in Batu Sapi, Sandakan, on June 27.

Jaujan, who is also the deputy chief minister, said earlier this month that as of Feb this year, there were 35,093 squatter families in Sabah, consisting of 146,225 people.

He said Sandakan had the highest number of squatters with 34,461, followed by Kota Kinabalu with 22,938 and Tawau with 19,319.

He said the issue was caused mainly by rural to urban migration.

Fire razes squatter area, leaving 500 homeless