Date of survey – 1 February 1999
Kota Kinabalu has a coastal zone area of 165km 2, much of it concentrated along the narrow strip on the west coast.
The 1991 Census stated that the population of Kota Kinabalu is 209,175. Under a Trend projection it will grow to 481,054 by 2005. By then all the population is urbanised. The preferred strategy however is to decrease the urban population to 450,000 leaving approximately 31,054 people as rural. The following table shows a comparison between the Trend and Preferred Strategy in 2005 together with the expected total urban land take and proportion of prime agricultural land.
Urban Development 1991-2005 : 1,739 ha.
Of which 435 ha. Prime Agricultural Land
Source: 1991 Census & ICZM Working Group
The Kota Kinabalu Local Plans serves as a planning guide to the development of urban Kota Kinabalu while the Kota Kinabalu Comprehensive Development Plan (KKCDP) guides development throughout the district.
The original topography of Kota Kinabalu varies from tidal swamps north of Kota Kinabalu town particularly around Likas Bay, Kolombong, Inanam, Yayasan Sabah area up to Menggatal, freshwater peat swamps and floodplains in the interior of Luyang, beaches along Tg. Aru and Sembulan, some moderate to high hills in the northern part particularly Telipok and the coastal areas of Sepanggar Bay, Signal Hills, Kepayan Ridge and the Bukit Likas. Mountain ranges run parallel along the coast which forms the basis for the ICZM boundary.
Vegetation and Environment
There are no major plantations in Kota Kinabalu partly because of the rapid urbanisation, high land prices and unfavourable topography. Only orchards and smallholders plantation are found such as rubber plantation. Few paddy fields are found scattered along the Tuaran Road to Manggatal. The mountain ranges and the urban hills (Signal Hill, Kepayan Ridge and the Bukit Likas) still have some protected primary forest.
Major Rivers found are Sungai Likas, Sungai Inanam and Sungai Manggatal which flow westwards towards the sea. Sungai Likas in particular are highly silted and polluted.
Most of the coastlines north of Yayasan Sabah too are still in natural form with the exception of the Sepanggar Port. However most of them have been the target for tourism development such as the Karambunai Resort and the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort at Tg. Aru.
Kota Kinabalu town is the major growth centre for Kota Kinabalu district and the whole of Sabah. The suburbs of Tg. Aru, Damai Plaza-Foh Sang and Inanam are fast growing as sub-centres for Kota Kinabalu town. The development of Likas Square in Likas Bay, and the King Fisher Park too can promote new sub-centres for Kota Kinabalu.
Areas along the coast of Likas Bay from Tg. Lipat to Yayasan Sabah are slowly being developed into social and administrative centres. Developments includes the handicraft centre and exhibition centre near Tg. Lipat and the Sabah State Foundation, Sabah State Legislative Hall, University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Campus and the Dewan Pustaka at Yayasan Sabah area.
Likas, Luyang, Sembulan and Dah Yeh Villa are established inner-urban high-density residential areas. Tg. Aru area is a lower density residential area due to the existence of old government squatters, Tg. Aru beach, the Golf and Country Club and the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort while Likas Jaya area is a luxurious inner-urban low density residential area.
New inner-urban residential areas are fast growing along the Kolombong highway up to Bukit Padang and Lido, and around King Fisher Park. New large residential areas are also fast growing along the new Kolombong-Tebobon highway, along the road to Sepanggar Bay and Telipok township. City living is also being introduced in Kota Kinabalu with the Api-api Centre development and the construction of the Menara Courts and Tokojaya Apartments.
Areas north of Manggatal, east of Kolombong and along Jalan Tuaran (after Inanam) remains a very low density housing area, mostly villages scattered around due to the constraints of the geographical features of the area.
Industrial areas are mostly concentrated around Inanam township, Kolombong areas and along Jalan Tuaran (From Inanam) up to Menggatal. The new Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) at Sepanggar is set to be a major industrial area for Kota Kinabalu and Sabah.
As the administrative centre for the State, Kota Kinabalu is well served by all the basic amenities and infrastructure. However, as urbanisation is rapidly growing, demand for services and infrastructure is increasingly exceeding the supply and may need more in the future. Traffic congestion is already on the rise.
Kota Kinabalu is also the major business centre for the State. Most of the economy is driven by private investment. New commercial development are expanding rapidly either in the town area or within the suburbs. The expansion of Asia City, development of Wisma Tokojaya and Wawasan Plaza are examples of town area commercial development while development along Jalan Lintas are examples of new commercial development in the suburbs. A high proportion of the population too works in the commercial and trading sectors.
Light industry is another economic activity in Kota Kinabalu. Inanam and Kolombong are also established industrial areas. However, heavier industrial activities are being introduced with the opening up of the KKIP.
Kota Kinabalu is also the centre for tourism and the main gateway for the State. New hotel and resort development has mushroomed since five years ago. Some of the prominent ones are the Sutera Harbour Resort Development and the Karambunai Resort.
Minor economic activities of Kota Kinabalu include agriculture, mostly for the small holders, and fisheries.
Due to the constraints set by Signal hill on the east, the port on the north and the residential area on the south (Sembulan and Gaya), the seafront of Kota Kinabalu is under pressure for reclamation development. Examples are the Sutera Harbour Resort development and the Api-api Centre areas. Tg. Aru is being redeveloped but this has been delayed. There is also pressure to reclaim the scenic seafront of Likas Bay which may come under heavy public objection if implemented.
The suburbs of Kota Kinabalu are fast urbanising. Kota Kinabalu is now urbanised up to Inanam in the North, Kolombong and Bukit Padang in the east, and Luyang and Kepayan to the south. According to the Geographic Information System (GIS) database (1991), urban areas cover 29.6% of the district within the ICZM area. However it is very likely that the percentage is higher now due to the rapid developments. Too much speculation has caused some of the large housing estates and shophouses to be vacant.
Most of the tidal swamps around the estuaries such as the UMS campus development area and the KKIP area too are under pressure for development. The hills in urban Kota Kinabalu (Signal Hills, Kepayan Ridge and the Bukit Likas), although protected, are also under pressure for more luxurious condominiums and apartment developments. Some extensively excavation works have already occured.
Illegal squatters along the coast such as Tg. Aru, Sembulan and Likas are also a constraint to development. Not only are they are residing on government and private properties, they also deteriorate the land in many ways such as degrading the value, polluting the land and causing obstacles to new developments. They are also said to be the main cause for social and hygiene problems.
Development is also restricted to the eastern mountains due the unfavourable topography and land use zonings.
However there are some suitable development land northwards. This is supported by the extensive infrastructure development. For instance the existing port at Sepanggar Bay, the KKIP development and the Karambunai Resort development will certainly assist growth of the area. Furthermore, zoning of the area that allows for development will certainly stimulate growth.
Being the capital city of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is sprawling fast leaving no place for rural settlement. The trend population indicates that by 2005 no parts of the district would be considered rural anymore. All of the rural areas now particularly up north around Telipok and Menggatal are expected to be urbanised by industryl particularly the KKIP development and housing estates. The rural areas too are becoming a target for illegal squatters particularly near rivers, swamps and hillsides.
The rapid development in Kota Kinabalu suggests the need for protection of the environment or at least integration of new developments with the environment.
About 35.6% of the Kota Kinabalu coastal zone area is suitable for agriculture. However, only 49.1% of that is being cultivated. It is found that cultivated land in the district exceeds the amount of land suitable for agriculture which indicates wide agricultural activities on unsuitable land. This is mostly found near Telipok
There is a substantial amount of mangrove forest mostly at Kuala Inanam and Kuala Menggatal. Some may have already been diminished such as the one at Kolombong due to urban pressure. The mangrove forest at Kuala Inanam and Kuala Menggatal too are being encroached by the UMS and KKIP development respectively.
Nevertheless, there have been efforts to preserve the mangrove forest such as the Bird Sanctuary Park next to the Likas Sports Complex and the Likas Lagoon.
Some primary forests are still left on the northern part of Kota Kinabalu near Karambunai and on the eastern mountain ranges.
Deep-sea fishing is still important from Kota Kinabalu. Products are sold locally at the Kota Kinabalu fish market and also export to neighbouring countries. However alleged fish bombing activities could ruin the sector and other marine life.
Land, Water and Air Transport
Again as the administrative centre for the State, Kota Kinabalu is well linked by trunk roads and air transport. However traffic congestion occurs daily except weekends especially in the morning and evening. Most of the common congested areas are the Karamunsing junction, Wawasan Plaza to Centre Point junction, Inanam areas, Kepayan-Tg. Aru road, Penampang road, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Jalan Kolam Luyang. Opening of the new cross-town highway from the Airport (Petagas) to Inanam via Lido and Bukit Padang hopefully will help to ease the traffic congestion.
The use of private cars and less use of public transport is the major cause for the traffic congestion. There is a need to upgrade the standard of the bus services so that it is attractive to everyone. A cross-town bus service should be introduced. Monorail is an option but needs more justification.
The airport is still sufficient to cater for air travel demand. Public water transport however is not as extensive. For instance the jetty at Kota Kinabalu seafront, which provide ferry services to Labuan and the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman Parks could be improved.
Nevertheless new infrastructure developments are plentiful especially the northern part of Kota Kinabalu. Physical infrastructure such as roads are developing northwards to support the new KKIP development. Apart from the just completed highway from Inanam to Tebobon, a new highway is also being built from Yayasan Sabah to KKIP. Other major infrastructure developments are the construction of the UMS campus at Yayasan Sabah.
Water is a problem in some parts of Kota Kinabalu basically due to the higher demand than supply. Water leakage is also a big constraint. Nevertheless the construction of a new phase of the Babagon Dam will hopefully resolve the water problems.
Power too is sufficient if operated at full capacity. Problems with transmission are the major cause of blackouts.
The whole of Kota Kinabalu at the moment has no problem receiving telecommunication services. Radio and television communications are not a problem.
With the State Hospital, Medical centres and the many clinics supplementing the services, health services are not a problem at least for now. Perhaps more government clinics are needed to serve the less well-off.
Education facilities are also sufficient for now from Kindergarten, primary, secondary, and right up to tertiary with the many colleges offering higher learning and the setting up of the Univerity Malaysia Sabah at Yayasan Sabah. Again, more is anticipated with the rapid urbanisation.
Recreation & Leisure
Besides the sports complex, there are many private clubs and golf clubs to supplement the recreational and leisure facilities. Even the newer apartments and condominiums provide recreational and leisure facilities. However there are concerns that the facilities are increasingly becoming expensive. Public recreational facilities such as football fields, tennis courts and halls are also lacking. It seems that most of the open space found in Kota Kinabalu is used as soccer fields during late afternoons.
Being an urbanised population, demand for outdoors recreational and recreational sports has increased. Water sports such as fishing is one example and Likas Bay is one of the favourite spots for fishing. Others are cycling, roller skating and skate boarding. The Tg. Aru beach too is a favourite public spot especially for picnickers during weekends. A proper plan is needed for Tg. Aru as the place is getting congested but it must be well integrated with the environment and the people’s need. More public parks too are needed.
Liquid & Solid Waste Disposal
Waste Disposal services have improved over the years. The new dumping site at Kayu Madang is properly built and has a waste capacity for the next 15 years. The privatisation of the services too will help. However there are still some critical areas particularly in the town areas around the bus terminals, and all the suburbs. The attitude of the people particularly the illegal squatters are to blame. More enforcement is needed.
Irrigation & Flood Control
The interiors of Kota Kinabalu such as Luyang and Kolombong are flood prone areas. The floods are mainly caused by illegal settlement on the riverbanks blocking the smooth flow of water runoffs and also where there are illegal structures in some of the private housing areas blocking the drains. Blockages of major drains too are a cause for flooding.
Being the administrative centre, business centre and growth centre for the State, Kota Kinabalu should maintain and improve its role. The development of the KKIP is vital to further encourage a more dynamic growth in mline with other States. However such development is best to be integrated with the environment.
Commercial and trading activities are very active in Kota Kinabalu and should continue leading the economic activities of Kota Kinabalu. However more detailed planning is needed about the property market so as to avoid excessive commercial development. More trees and cleanliness are also important.
As the tourism centre for the State, the tourism industry is still one of the leading economic activities of Kota Kinabalu. However more smaller scale-type tourist accommodation is needed to cater for the less indulgent tourist.
It is preferred that development will continue to grow northwards along the new highways, the opened up areas of Kuala Inanam and along the Sepanggar Bay road to the KKIP area as there is already new infrastructure taking place. The township of Menggatal and Telipok should also be developed as major growth centres for the northern part of the district.
The town of Kota Kinabalu however will remain as the business and commercial centre for the district as well as the State while areas around Yayasan Sabah can be further developed as a new administrative centre.
Industrial areas at Kolombong and Inanam should be maintained as light and general industrial areas due to their proximity to residential areas. KKIP can be reserved for heavy industrials.
Nevertheless there is also a need to balance development by maintaining the ratio of urban to rural area to at least at 70:30. This is to avoid any excessive alteration to the existing natural landscape such as the hills and the wetlands and this can be done by observing the zoning of the area. This is also possible as it is found that there are still lots of underused land within the existing urban areas.
As the squatter settlements remain a very difficult and complicated problem, the least that can be done is to identify the locations of the squatter settlements and assess the conditions of the settlements.
Development growth should be restricted from growing eastwards to protect the primary forest of the existing hills and mountains. Small developments such as retreat accommodation however maybe permissible as long as it blends with the existing landscape.
All the rivers in Kota Kinabalu are vital not because it provides water supply but more importantly for drainage purposes.
There is also a need to reassess the importance of preserving the environmentally sensitive lands such as the wetlands. More environmental protection land such as the Likas Lagoon wetlands and the Bird Sanctuary at Likas Bay should be made. The people of Kota Kinabalu are increasingly recognising the importance of the environment to their lifestyle. Besides such areas attract tourists as well.
The common practice of cultivating on unsuitable soil particularly in the interiors of Menggatal and Telipok should also be stopped. Only land suitable for agriculture should be used.
The urban hills (Signal Hill, Bukit Likas and Kepayan Ridge) and the hill slopes should be protected from further development.
The only way to resolve increasing traffic congestion is to improve the utilisation of the public transport. A major revamp in the public transport is needed to make it more efficient, friendly and attractive. The other option is to limit access during peak hours. A separate traffic study is probably needed.
There is also a need for special lanes for buses in congested areas. The use of bicycles too is encouraged.
The jetty at the Kota Kinabalu waterfront needs re-development. Designs should incorporate the land behind Gaya Centre.
As public sports and recreational facilities are in demand, proper footballs fields, parks and recreational facilities are needed. Proper jetties for fishing and camping grounds are welcomed. Special lanes for cycling can also help minimise traffic problems. Places for skate boarding and roller blading are also encouraged.
It is always difficult to control urban growth. Rather than putting part of the population as rural, facilitating growth is another perhaps better option. But this does not mean concentrating too much on the town areas. The population needs to be spread evenly and this can be done by creating sub-centres for Kota Kinabalu.