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Covid-19 leaves Sarawak’s first water park high and dry

The park was supposed to reopen early this year, but questions have arisen over its survival.

Nur Shazreena Ali
2 minute read
The water theme park at Borneo Samariang Resort City, overgrown after the long months of Covid-19 shutdown.
The water theme park at Borneo Samariang Resort City, overgrown after the long months of Covid-19 shutdown.

At Bandar Baru Samariang, some 20km from Kuching, a handful of buildings stand quiet and deserted along the banks of Sungai Batang Salak.

Everything is dark, and even the roads leading towards the buildings are void of vehicles.

Once upon a time, they were part of a massive development plan for Petra Jaya known as the Borneo Samariang Resort City project.

Planned across a stretch of land measuring 500 acres, the project included an international convention centre, serviced apartments, several blocks of normal housing, and a water theme park.

It was meant to be one of Sarawak’s star attractions to lure international and local visitors alike – but today, the lights are off and the shutters are down.

Nowhere is the change more keenly felt than in the abandoned theme park.

A colourful slide twists through trees and unkempt foliage.

When it opened in 2019, it was Sarawak’s first and, by default, biggest water park.

Huge, colourful slides twisted down through the trees, ending in pools of crystal clear water where crowds of families would flock to spend the weekends and school holidays.

The onset of Covid-19 the very next year changed everything.

The ensuing lockdowns and restrictions on movements meant that the park was stripped of its visitors.

Now, two years later as the country eases its way towards the endemic phase, it is still empty.

Located along the shoreline, the water park was meant to be a star tourist attraction.

A local who introduced himself as Hakimi said the park was supposed to reopen early this year.

“But it’s been months now, and nothing has changed,” he added.

“It was already in operation but it had to close due to the lockdowns.”

Amirah, a former employee at the theme park, said there had been repeated promises of reopening as part of an ambitious plan to save the idle facilities.

“The theme park was only closed due to the Covid-19 lockdowns,” she said.

“During the six months of the lockdown, the management did not lay us off. They even continued to pay our salaries although they cut our pay by half.”

Pools of once crystal clear water are now dirty and empty.

But with almost zero revenue due to the long months of disuse, she fears that the management might be struggling to meet its financial obligations.

“I always hear news that they will reopen the place,” she said. “But I don’t think they can run the theme park again.”

Amirah said one of her friends who lived nearby had also worked with her at the theme park.

“He said several companies came to survey the place. But they only visited. After that, there was no news.”

The Borneo Samariang Resort City project, owned by Sensoria Group Bhd, commenced in 2018.

The housing component, Borneo Samariang Garden, included hundreds of units of serviced apartments and 1,000 houses in various phases.

Construction was supposed to end in 2019, but it never did.

MalaysiaNow understands that a number of owners are now left in the lurch as they had already started to pay their instalments.

The Sarawak government had said that it would take over the development of Borneo Samariang Garden.