SANDAKAN Aug 13 - Work on the RM240-million Sandakan Harbour Square project officially started Wednesday, less than two years from the date it was first proposed.
An official ceremony at a jetty near the existing central market at the waterfront signalled the start of the work which involves the demolition, site clearance, site reclamation and construction of seawalls.
The symbolic act in drilling away the concrete jetty in order to make way for the project was officiated by the member of parliament for Sandakan, Datuk Lau Ngan Siew.
It was witnessed by a large crowd, including the Sandakan Municipal Council (SMC) president, Datuk Adeline Leong, and deputy president (II), Datuk Thomas Lau.
Land reclamation works and settlement will take 18 months to complete.
Leong said the Sandakan Harbour Square project would be carried out in four phases.
Phase 1 will include reclaiming nine acres of land from the sea to add to the existing three acres, and the building of a new jetty and new and modern central market to replace the existing old market built more than 50 years ago.
There will also be a three-storey circular sea-level annex for a seafood restaurant.
The 61 shop-offices will comprise 29 three-storey units and 32 four-storey units with varying floor sizes. The shop offices in this phase are scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2006.
Leong said Phase 2 would commence when market traders were relocated to the new market and the old market would then be demolished to make way for the building of the Phase 2 shophouses and Phase 3 retail/carpark complex.
Phase 3 will commence concurrently with or, shortly after, certain parts of Phase 1 which will include the retail/carpark complex, the Sandakan Harbour Mall.
Phase 4 has yet to be finalised but it will include a five-star hotel.
The project is being undertaken by the Sandakan Municipal Council as the landowner in a joint venture with the developer, Ireka-Charng Sheng Development Sdn Bhd.
Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange-listed Ireka Corporation Bhd holds 60 percent equity in the joint venture company while Sabah-based construction/development company Syarikat Charng Sheng Sdn Bhd holds the remaining equity of 40 percent.
"In other words, the council provides the land while Ireka-Charng Sheng designs, finances, builds and sells the commercial properties," said Leong.
The council will own and operate the new central market and fish jetty and the new town Harbour Square and other public areas.
Leong said: "It is also part of the council's efforts to transform Sandakan into a Nature City by the year 2004."
Ireka-Charng Sheng Development Sdn Bhd joint managing director, Lai Voon Hon said the project had helped the Ireka Group to gain a significant foothold in East Malaysia. It is already undertaking a housing project in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital.