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By Sandra Sokial

KOTA KINABALU, April 3:

Sabah DAP has called on the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry to focus on building affordable houses near the city instead of outlying areas.

Its chairman, Jimmy Wong, made the call, stressing that affordable houses should be built within 10km to 20km from the heart of the city to meet the demand.

The Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament (MP) said he had raised the issue on many occasions, adding that more than 50% of the population lived in the city now and it was, therefore, crucial to build more affordable houses within city limits to meet the demand from middle- and lower-income people.

He was commenting on a recent report that 5,000 affordable houses under the MyHome scheme, an initiative by the ministry, would be launched in Sabah this year.

According to Deputy Minister Halimah Sadique, the federal government had allocated RM300 million to subsidise the cost of the homes.

Qualified buyers could receive a discount up to RM30,000 to assist them to get their first house, which is estimated to be priced between RM90,000 and RM250,000.

It is expected that about 10,000 houses will be ready by year end in Sabah.

“As proper road facilities and public transport are lacking here, it will be difficult for those who stay away from the city to work here.

“The need is now to build affordable housing within the limits of the city to allow for people to earn a living.”

He said the move would help resolve problems of urban poverty, especially with the present price hikes and worsening traffic jams.

“The quality of life for Sabahans will then be affected, making it hard for them to survive with a monthly income of about RM3,000.”

Wong also wanted the MyHome scheme to offer loans to those earning less than RM3,000, which was the case for most Sabah employees.

“Reports have shown that more than 60% of households earned less than RM3,000 in 2012.

“The government should put in more efforts to meet the demands of the lower-income people and owning a home tops the list.”

He also reminded his colleagues in Barisan Nasional (BN) of their 13th general election manifesto which stated that one million affordable houses would be built within five years by 2018.

Wong, however, had doubts that the ministry would be able to accomplish this mission.

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