BIBD Connects opens at Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas

New community hub expected to service locals and tourists visiting the park

The capital’s riverfront park Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas (TMJE) welcomed the second BIBD Connects outlet yesterday along with a giant photo frame for visitors to take pictures with a backdrop of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Mosque.

The new Connects is expected to help boost visitorship to TMJE by opening up five retail spaces for food and beverage and souvenirs while also housing an ATM and a smart TV offering branchless banking as well as a tourist directory.

BIBD Connects, which debuted in Lambak Kanan in March last year, was recently awarded the 3G Best Community Development Initiative at the 4th Global Good Governance Awards for being a pioneering community hub in Brunei.

The second branch – slightly larger than the first – has retained the modular design, using mostly recycled shipping containers that were assembled and completed on site in 30 days at a cost of approximately $50 per square foot.

“By resuing (treated) containers we not only recycle but reduce cost by saving on materials and (construction) time,” said BIBD’s Head of Government Relations and Special Projects Division Hj Mohammad Yusri Hj Wahsalfela.

“We are expecting to have more Connects branches, and we are in the process of identifying more suitable locations.”

The Minister of Finance and Economy II and BIBD Chairman Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awg Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said in a press statement that Connects was one of the bank’s initiatives to help local businesses, with rent substantially lower than traditional commercial spaces.

Hj Mohd Yusri said the five vendors – Samalindang Gallery, Geo Eats, Piccolo Cafe, Happy Cream and Wan Wana Kitchen – were selected from a pool of over 70 applicants.

For Geo Eats, Samalindang Gallery and Wan Wana Kitchen, BIBD Connects will be their first commercial branch, and they’re hoping the strategic location will help drive sales and brand awareness amongst Bruneians and tourists alike.

“We’ve tweaked our menu for this location to serve quicker and healthier food that’s suitable for customers on the go,” said Co-founder of Jerudong-based Geo Eats Nurul Nadiatul Hidayah.

Nadiatul, who began the business with her sister in December 2017, said they were still trying to retain the main concept of their menu serving dishes from different regions.

MOD minister YB Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Suhaimi (L) with MPRT minister YB Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Ali (2nd L) visiting Geo Eats’ unit.

The founder of Wan Wana Kitchen Dk Hjh Ikhwana Shafina Pg Md Daud is hoping the new Connects will be their big break, having carried out deliveries of sandwiches and donuts since 2016.

“I think the location is excellent for the kind of food we serve, which is more towards takeaways,” said Dk Hjh Ikhwana. “We were quite surprised to make the final cut, and we will certainly make the most of this opportunity.”

Hj Yusri added that the 9.3 metre photo frame – inspired by the Dubai Frame – was commissioned by BIBD as part of the TMJE Connects project with drawing tourists in mind.

Situated next to the SOAS mosque, the 12-hectare TMJE has become a routine stop for tours. The park evolved out of a flood mitigation project and became a central piece to the BSB Masterplan, requiring land reclamation and the relocation of residents from Sg Kedayan.

The Minister of Development and Co-Chairman of BSB Planning and Development Committee Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Ali Apong and BIBD Managing Director and CEO Mubashar Khokhar jointly officiated the opening of the new Connects yesterday.

Watch: BIBD Connects officially opens at TMJE