Sunday, March 7

Ministry all out to ensure measures to control peat fires in place — Uggah

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MIRI: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment wants to ensure that all agencies in Miri are well prepared for the dry season.

Its minister Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas was here yesterday for a discussion with Geological Department, Department of Environment and Drainage and Irrigation Department to ensure that projects for peat soil management were in place.

“We want to see whether all the programmes that we put for peat management are in place. Now we are preparing for dry weather that usually occurs around May and June,” Uggah told reporters yesterday.

The projects, namely retention ponds in Taman Tunku, tube wells, a check dam and observation tower in Permyjaya will help to reduce peat fire in the division during prolonged dry weather.

Uggah disclosed that the RM400,000 observation tower in Permyjaya would help to monitor and check early fire in the area.

“The check dam (RM150,000) and ponds (RM400,000) are part of the national peat management master plan to manage peat areas in Miri,” he added.

At the same time, Uggah appealed to the public to cooperate with the ministry and the relevant agencies as everybody needed to play their part.

According to Uggah, the check dam would help to maintain the water level while the five tube wells would be used to pump underground water.

“The whole thing is to ensure that the level of water in peat areas is maintained to reduce or minimise peat fires. Peat fires will occur if the water level is below two metres. The idea is to push up the water level to reduce combustion during dry season,” he explained.

The projects are the first to be implemented in the state. The ministry is now looking at Mukah and some other peat areas in the state for to implement the same preventive measure. Meanwhile, Uggah disclosed that the upgrading and improvement of Lapok-Bakong Road was progressing after minor problems were sorted out with various agencies including the local community.