Instead of just stopping for a drink and a snack, travellers will soon be able to climb into a watchtower and observe wildlife in its natural habitat.
The soon-to-be-completed Kuala Berang-Aring-Gua Musang highway, the country’s first “eco-tourism route”, will traverse the fringes of Tasik Kenyir.
The road is part of the 306-kilometre second East-West Highway from Simpang Pulai, Perak, to Kuala Berang, Terengganu. But it is the 60km stretch from Pasir Pulau at Tasik Kenyir to Aring near the Terengganu-Kelantan border that will be the most exciting.
Two 245-metre long viaducts for animal crossing have been built at Sungai Kembur and Sungai Purun. A third at Sungai Kelempai is 145m long. The three viaducts are the first of their kind in the country.
Watch towers and platforms will be built in these areas to enable travellers to watch wild animals from a safe distance at any time, under the watchful eyes of the Kenyir Rangers.
"This is the country's first true eco-tourism route," said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh yesterday. “It showcases Terengganu’s heritage, that is its wildlife, and the environment.”
He took an hour-long helicopter ride to view the progress of the project, and was happy to note that construction is running about a month ahead of schedule.
Scheduled to be opened by the end of the year, the highway will enable travellers to drive from Kuala Berang to the Cameron Highlands in Pahang in less than four hours, or Ipoh, Perak, in under five.
"This route will provide an impetus for the tourism industry," said Idris, adding that the state Economic Planning Unit and the Central Terengganu Development Authority (Ketengah) will be asked to draw up a new development master plan for certain areas along the route.
"The government has spent RM1.9 billion to build this road. The potential for tourism is enormous and I am challenging the private sector to take the opportunity. The risks are worthwhile considering the opportunities. But don't take my word for it. Come and see it for yourself," he added.
Already several areas have been earmarked by Ketengah for development, including a 6,000-hectare site for a resort city near Tasik Kenyir, and a duty free complex.
By the end of the year, Ketengah will begin construction of a 1,000m-long canopy walk. The RM8 million walk will be the longest canopy walk in the world.
Source : NST
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