Monday, 8 June 2009

The Sabah Fire and Rescue Department headquarters which is located next to a Chinese cemetery along the Kolombong highway in Kota Kinabalu.

I live in Kionsom, Inanam about six miles from Kota Kinabalu. Everyday I go to Tanjung Aru using Jalan Lintas. One `landmark' that had been always been `hunting' me is the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department's headquarters at Mile 5, Jalan Tuaran.

The building was built on a site sandwiched by cemetery. I had always been asking why and this question had been noticed by Federal Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Datuk Haji Lajim Ukin during a visit recently.

I reproduced below a story on Lajim's as it appeared in the Saturday's New Straits Times.

KOTA KINABALU: Most people would be dead set against living anywhere near graveyards for fear of ghostly visits or bad feng shui.

Staff at the state Fire and Rescue Department headquarters, however, have to bear with the situation as their workplace is located next to the Chinese cemetery along the Kolombong highway (Jalan Lintas).

Here, the term "graveyard shift" takes on a life of its own.

"Sometimes, my men are a bit wary about being put on the night shift here. It becomes a point of contention or a joke," said department director Khirudin Drahman.

Not only is the location undesirable but Khirudin said it was also impractical as the location meant that no renovations or extensions could be done.
"It is not as if we can dig up the graves for any extension. But at least no one will complain about any noise!"

Fortunately, the men do not have to live at the site as their living quarters are located separately elsewhere.

State Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin, who visited the headquarters on Friday, said that two other branches of the department -- in Tuaran and in Tambunan -- were also located near or next to ceme-teries.

"It's very unfortunate. It's as if they were given land that nobody else wanted."

Lajim said he had asked his ministry to look into the matter and investigate if there had been any misleading information given in the allocation of the land.

On another matter, Lajim said the ministry would be submitting a working paper to the cabinet outlining plans for Fire and Rescue Department volunteer teams in Sabah.

"These volunteer teams would be trained to deal with crises and fires in their areas.

"They can help control the fire until the firemen can reach the site.

"This is crucial to save lives and reduce losses."

He said 56 places in the state had been identified to have such teams but so far only 13 of them had active volunteer teams.

"Some of these teams have been provided fire-fighting equipment but we are looking at providing training and equipment for all the areas."

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