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Kuching Waterfront

Kuching Waterfront “The People Place”


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History


Towards the end of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century, the riverfront of Kuching Town running parallel against Jalan Gambier and Main Bazaar formed the linear frontage of the commercial centre of Kuching. The river and the sea were the principal means of communication and transport to the other parts of the world. The riverfront market place was also the regional distributing, trading and retailing centre for Kuching and its hinterlands.

As Kuching continued to grow, the development of new roads and air transport have resulted in a decline in the use of the godowns for storage and the wharves and landing stages for berthing of cargo boats, fishing trawlers and passenger boats. The once bustling port/trading area had been reduced to a neglected and dilapidated stretch which in turn created environmental and social problems.

In the early 80's, YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, envisaged a renewed relationship between the people and its river. A relationship which had grown apart through the years. He then commissioned a special team to turn the Kuching Waterfront into an oasis of leisure, recreation and discovery. With that, came the renaissance.


Development


The development of the area was to rediscover Kuching's relationship with the riverfront and to unlock its potential as a leisure and recreation resource for the future.

The overall concept took into account the need to provide a mix of community and tourist centered activities while still recognizing the importance of preserving the historical and cultural setting of the area. It was also intended to become the landmark and showpiece of the city. This concept thus influenced everything that the Kuching Waterfront is - the materials used; the structures; the facilities; the artworks; the activities; etc. most of which are unique to the Kuching Waterfront only.

The Sarawak Economic Development Corporation was assigned by the State Government in 1989 to develop the riverfront in time for the State's 30th Anniversary in Malaysia in 1993.

The consultants selected to design the project were a team of local and foreign consultants - Conybeare Morrison and Partners (Australia) and United Consultants (Kuching). Construction by local contractors spanned over a period of 2 and a half years (May 1991 to September 1993).

During this period, the old riverfront characterized by dilapidated godowns and jetties, dirty mud flats and eroded riverbanks were transformed into a beautiful landscaped and bustling Waterfront. This metamorphosis acted as a catalyst to the development and improvement in the adjacent areas in that the ripple of economic revitalization is felt through improved land values, enhanced environment and general amenity throughout the city.

The Kuching Waterfront was officially launched by YAB Chief Minister of Sarawak on September 3, 1993.