KUCHING: Building retaining walls and drainage may provide a short-term solution to the riverbank erosion and frequent flooding in Kampung Rantau Panjang, Sinar Budi and Tengah Sungai, but relocation is believed to be the better long-term alternative.
Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, yesterday proposed that the close to 300 households in these three villages in the Batu Kawa area to seriously consider relocating to safer areas.
With the many flood occurrences hitting these villages over the past few years, he pointed out the risks if villagers continued to live so close to the river. Dr Sim also cautioned the amount of protection that could be accorded during future floods, taking into account the unpredictable weather pattern and the volume of rainfall due to climate change.
He added there were available state lands in nearby areas which the people should seriously consider, saying he was willing to help the villagers to apply for new land for the relocation purposes.
“We understand that relocation is a very complex matter and can be a challenging process. To ask people to move away from their ancestral home can be emotional as well as it is a sensitive issue. We have to think about compensation and it is going to be a lot of work but most importantly, the villagers have to express their desire to move.
“Nevertheless, it is our duty to tell the people to seriously consider relocating. Please take advantage of the available government land in the nearby areas,” Dr Sim told reporters when met during a working visit to inspect the riverbank erosion at the three villages yesterday.
Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang and officers from the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), Public Works Department (JKR) as well as several Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) leaders were also present.
“We brought along officers from DID and JKR to evaluate the situation in these villages and for them to propose the type of projects and cost estimation as measures to stop further erosion and flooding. In this situation, building drainage and irrigation system or retaining wall can be costly. On the long run, it may not be cost effective when compared to relocation,” Dr Sim said.
Citing the villages of Sinar Budi and Rantau Panjang, he expressed concern that the road access was situated so close to the river. This could yield further complications during flooding.
Meanwhile, private landowners have been told to cooperate with government agencies in efforts to mitigate flash floods all around by agreeing to deepening or widening water ways on their respective land.
This is one of the temporary measures to ensure that flash floods would not recur.
Expanding and deepening water ways will contribute to the discharge excess water to streams and rivers more effectively.
“Every time it floods, there are bound to be losses in properties apart from causing inconveniences to the affected people. The flood this time was caused by water logged in the drainage system and the excess water cannot get discharged properly into waterways and then into streams or rivers,” Dr Sim said when met at Genesis Parade Sungai Moyan Shopping Mall in Matang-Batu Kawah Road here before visiting Sungai Moyan yesterday morning.
He said local authorities such as MPP, JKR, DID and land developers for example, must get down to the root cause of the flood-related problems and also to ensure that flood would not recur.
SUPP also distributed bags of rice to 365 families in the Batu Kawah-Batu Kitang areas affected by the recent flood yesterday. Dr Sim is also SUPP president.