YES, when it rains, even for 15 minutes in Kuching, many of the roads here become paddling pools of sorts. And we are not talking about when it rains continuously for several days, such as what happened in January.
Once upon a time in this peaceful little city, occurrences of flash floods on the main roads were rare. However, this has become quite a problem of late.
These days, all it takes is 15 to 30 minutes of a heavy downpour and Kuching roads are almost submerged.
Eye wonder why?
Back in the day, we would have problems where drainage was poor and we would have certain patches of roads becoming waterlogged. But drivers usually had the option of avoiding these watery patches by going into another lane.
These days, whole stretches of roads turn into pools after just a few minutes of heavy rain.
A friend sent the Eye a photo of what happened during a short but heavy downpour in the city. It clearly shows a part of Song Thian Cheok Road under several inches of water.
One evening recently, a downpour resulted in Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg (the stretch from the Badruddin traffic lights to Wisma Saberkas) being flooded under several inches of water as well, causing several cars to break down by the roadside.
These are just two examples of roads that become pools of water each time it rains here. There are many more areas experiencing the same problem throughout the city.
We cannot just blame the rain for these flash floods on Kuching roads.
The question that should actually be posed is “what is happening to our drainage system?”
Why has the problem become more evident of late? Could it be due to whatever works are being undertaken with the city’s sewerage project?
Or just plain poor maintenance of our drainage system? Could it be clogged up?
Could it be the deteriorating road conditions of Kuching? Or the way the roads here have been maintained? We are all familiar with our roads just being patched with tar each time it becomes uneven, or when sink holes appear, instead of having the roads properly scrapped and re-tarred.
These little flash-pools (let’s call them that) which appear each time it rains have proven to be costly too. It is fine if you drive a vehicle with high ground clearance such as a four-wheel drive.
But, those who drive little cars with low ground clearance often find themselves stranded by the roadside with hefty repair bills if they attempt to cross these pools of water. Repairs these days to water damaged motors, coils, wires, spark plugs and distributors are not cheap.
And it is not that they have a choice to turn back if they chance upon a flooded road, nor do they have the choice to just stop there and wait till the water subsides.
Will the relevant authorities please stand up and do something about these flash-pool prone areas?
Or shall we start sending our car repair bills to the government each time we get stranded because of our waterlogged roads?