The collapsed Melalap train station was an important part of our history.
by Stanley P, Carrybeans
It’s a sad day for Sabah when the Melalap train station, a recently gazetted heritage site in Tenom, collapsed. The North Borneo Historical Society reported that the 112-year old dilapidated train station gave way yesterday.
“Despite being declared a national heritage recently, there was no reinforcement work done by the ones who were authorised to take care of the area,” said North Borneo Historical Society in a Facebook post. They added that they were planning to put in supporting columns for the battered building last year. However, the plan was scrapped as they were advised not to do so.
The Melalap train station started operating in early 1900’s and was used to transport produce and people to major towns. The station was part of the North Borneo Railway Line (now known as Western Sabah Railway Line). Due to economic changes around Melalap area, it was closed down in the early 1970’s. Following that, the station was turned into a police station from 1975 to 1976.
Over time, the condition of the station deteriorated quickly due to the lack of preservation efforts on the station. In 2016, Richard Kerr of North Borneo Historical Society started off a campaign to save the station. The effort found success as it was recently gazetted as one of Sabah’s 24 heritage sites.
“We have done our part to push the authorities to gazette the station and [it] has been completed. As we have no authority on the structure, that’s all we can do,” a representative from the group said.
North Borneo Historical Society said that Sabah Museum is aware of the collapse of Melalap train station.
“I believe the museum had been notified, they already have plans for the station but have yet to reveal it. I think for now it’s suffice to say that it’s being worked on,” the representative from North Borneo Historical Society said.
Unfortunately, there is not much that the public can do right now. The public has no access to the station because the station and its surrounding area is currently fenced off. According to the North Borneo Historical Society, however, Melalap residents can help in the cause by urging their local representatives to do something about the historical site.
It’s disheartening to know that an important piece of Sabah’s history has ended up collapsing. Preservation and restoration efforts for historical buildings are crucial so that our future generations will know of our rich history. So, there is a need for a more robust effort in protecting similar heritage sites so that they won’t end up with the same fate as Melalap train station.
As Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots”. Therefore, we hope the Melalap train station can be restored as soon as possible for the sake of our future generations.
Wondering how KK look like back then? Well, wonder no more!
Featured Image Credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas via Wikipedia