Missing the forest for the trees

Posted on January 25, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Star-

BROOKE Drive is one of the best roads in Sibu town. Well-constructed and always properly maintained, it is lined with beautiful flowering trees, neat pedestrian paths on both sides, and has bright street lights.

This five-kilometre stretch runs through good land where land subsidence and flooding are not a problem.

Because of its central location and favourable topography, the land on both sides of the road is the addresses of some of the most affluent people in town

In full bloom: A file picture of the pink and white tabebuia pentaphylla trees along Brooke Drive.

Contrastingly, the area has some negative points. For example, some of the roadside trees are becoming a hazard to motorists. They block the view of drivers going out to the main road from the side lanes. This section of the road is about one kilometre long from the junction of Jalan Sepetir and the roundabout at Jalan Merdeka.

The side lanes which are affected by the trees include Hose Lane, Brooke Drive Lane 15, Lorong Terap, Jalan Kumpang, Jalan Bruang, Jalan Upi and Jalan Sie Poi Kieng.

Along this stretch are 43 mature pink and white tabebuia pentaphylla trees, also called the “Trumpet Tree” or the “White Cedar Tree”. This native of South America was introduced to Malaysia several decades ago.

Whether or not to remove these trees has been a topic of discussion and debate for the past two decades.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) which planted the trees some 30 years ago is adamant about keeping the trees which it considers very beautiful and valuable public assets. The council is also very committed to environmental conservation and protection.

SMC is fully aware of public complaints and concern about the trees especially at Brooke Drive Lane 15 and Jalan Kumpang.

However, it is quite unlikely that the trees would be removed any time soon because it is SMC’s goal to transform Sibu into a garden city by maintaining existing trees and planting many more.

Both SMC deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng and Councillor Robert Lau Hui Yew who is SMC Works and Traffic Standing Committee chairman are very firm about keeping the trees.

Some members of the public and many of the residents along the affected roads however, are enraged by what they claim to be SMC’s indifferent attitude towards their problems. They are asking why the trees are considered more important than their lives.

True, no fatal accidents have happened which can be attributed to obstruction by the trees along the stretch. But knowing that there is potential danger, shouldn’t the council act first? SMC should not stop exploring ways to find some win-win solution, that is, keeping the trees and make motorists happy at the same time.

One possible solution is to turn the more seriously affected side lanes into one-way streets. If no traffic comes out to Brooke Drive from the side lanes, then the problem is solved. The practicality of this move, however, has to be thoroughly studied first.

Perhaps the easier and more practical solution is to sacrifice two to three trees nearest to where the lanes and the main road intersect. These trees should be carefully removed using excavators for re­­plant­­­ing in other more suitable areas.

Moving on to the bigger picture, it ought to be noted that SMC inherits many of the town’s existing traffic problems caused by poor planning of yesteryears.

As Sibu continues to grow and expand, it is important for the council to engage more professional town planners to improve the existing traffic and beautification programmes as well as map out proper plans for future development.

While SMC has successfully transformed Sibu from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, there are still more rooms for improvement especially in meeting the expectations of the young and modern generation.


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One Response to “Missing the forest for the trees”

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This is the best idea I have heard in a long time! Finally nature wins one over man’s wants.

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