Sunday, September 26

Flood mitigation project a success – Minister


SIBU: The flood mitigation project here is a success as proven during the recent flood caused by high tide and heavy downpour.

The completed phases I and II of the project kept areas covered by it dry.

This gave Minister of Local Government and Community Development and Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh the confidence to say that when the entire flood mitigation project is completed the whole town will be free from flood.

“This can be a showcase project for the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID).

“Phase II has been proven effective in the recent high tide and heavy downpour. The area we intended to protect under phase II was free from flood.

“We hope to carry on what we have started – the entire flood mitigation plan for Sibu and that will cover the rest of the town such as Kpg Dato, Kpg Nangka, Sg Antu and Sg Seduan areas.

“Not forgetting Sg Bidut area, which is a farming area and quite low-lying which will be covered under the new phase.

“This is to protect the west bank, particularly the agriculture area. Otherwise, whenever there is heavy downpour and high tide, it is flooded, causing greens to be costly,” Wong said prior to a briefing on the progress of implementation and future works of Sibu Flood Mitigation Plan here yesterday.

Speaking to reporters later, he urged the people to be more objective about the project.

“You have to see the result before criticising,” he said.

“The opposition had called for dredging of the bottleneck at Pulau Kerto to resolve flooding woes in Sibu.

“So, we dredged it and no sooner had we dredged than the sand bar appeared because the volume of sand and mud carried down from upriver was huge.

“The expert told us once you cleared it, it might take three to six months for it to build up again and so it is back to square one,” he said.

“Between RM7 and RM8 million went down the drain,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Tai Lee Yoon of Jurutera Jasa (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, who gave the briefing, said DID had commissioned and come up with the master plan for the entire Sibu flood mitigation plan, which entailed 11 pumping stations.

Tai added five had been completed while another six would be done in phase III.

“The future plan consists of the completion of a coastal road that goes up to Kpg Datu and back to Seduan. It also entails outlying areas such as Sg Bidut – raising of roads and putting up tidal gates.

“Then, there is Kampung Usahajaya Baru, Jalan Sentosa, Salim, Kampung Bahagia Jaya, Teku and Kampung Jeriah, Oya, which involves improvement of local drainage and in some areas like Jeriah and Sentosa there will be a bit of bunding and a pumping station as well,” he stated.

On phase I, he noted it had two pumping stations while phase II had one.

He mentioned that the ones at Ang Chui Kow and Loba Lembangan were constructed under the economic stimulus package.

Each pump is capable of pumping out three cubic metres of water per second, he disclosed.

He also touched on the flood that happened in 1963, during which literally half of Sibu town was inundated.

According to Tai, the volume of water that came down Rajang River was 15,500 cubic metres per second.

Meanwhile, state DID director Wong Siu Hieng explained that the Bakun Dam was insignificant in preventing flooding in Sibu.

“At one time, people were saying Bakun Dam can prevent flooding in Sibu.

“But, if you look at the small catchment area – the fact is that, it can’t because there is minimal impact from the dam,” he said.

Tai echoed Siu Hieng’s view, saying it had been proven from the findings of a modelling work.

“The finding showed the reduced flood level in Sibu is very small and not significant as far as flooding here is concerned.”

Among those present were Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King, deputy chairman Dato Andrew Wong, DID Sibu branch chief Ting Sing Kwong, political secretaries to the chief minister Romeo Christopher Tegong and Pau Kiew Chuan.