On Wednesday we reported on how a huge barge carrying building materials had severely damaged Sipadan’s reef (http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/divingnews/). We wondered what the barge was doing there – as the island is supposed to be protected and all diving resorts there had to leave a couple of years ago.
Well, it turns out that the barge operators had been given a contract to build tourist facilities such as toilets and restaurants on the island (source: Malaysian National News Agency).
When the Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah (who is also Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister) was asked how the barge could sail to the protected island, he said the contractor who was involved in the project was not given any approval by Sabah Parks to use such a huge vessel to transport the building materials or equipment.
Asked whether the contract would be terminated, he said:
“We have to wait and see… the contractor has been very cooperative and has admitted the faults.”
Not, I suspect, what divers around the world wanted to hear.