City Commissioner’s call for joint flood mitigation efforts timely

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The call by Kuching North City Commissioner Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai for a coordinated planning of a flood mitigation master plan for Kuching city was a shocking admission of the haphazard implementation of the drainage system in the city.

Kudos to Abang Wahap for making the call and in doing so exposed the abject failure of the city drainage planners all these years.

Apparently the bodies in charge of drainage in the city have not consulted each other in their planning resulting in inefficient drainage systems which cannot cope with the deluge of a downpour.

The authorities have been complacent because Kuching was spared from frequent flash floods until recent years because there were still large swathes of vacant land which could accommodate the waters that overflowed from the drains.

However, with the rapid development taking place in the city resulting in once empty land built up or fenced up and filled with earth to raise its level, the water after heavy downpours would flow straight to the drains overwhelming their capacities.

It does need an expert to see the inevitable consequence of overflowing drains and the frequent floods are a damning indictment of the negligence of the drainage planners of the city in ignoring the obvious danger.

They sat back and let it happen without making any concerted effort to prevent floods in the city and let the situation become untenable before waking up from their slumber.

Something should have been done earlier and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) must heed Datuk Abang Wahap’s call for it to work with the local councils in addressing the frequent flash floods.

The question is who should take the lead in getting this synergistic approach moving?

Thankfully newly appointed Minister of Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hien has come to the fore in tackling this very urgent issue.

He was reported by the local press to have said that he would be seeking a budget of RM70 million in the State Supplementary Budget next month to solve the flash floods in the city.

There is already a committee under State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani set up to identify the flood prone areas which is the first step. This committee should be the co-ordinating body through which DID and the local councils work to plan and implement measures to combat flooding in Kuching.

While rectifying the defects and increasing the capacity of the present drainage system should be the immediate task of the committee, a review on the approval procedure of new building plans is equally imperative.

Kuching city residents are reaping the consequence of approvals of development projects without proper consideration of the ramifications on the drainage of building the new structures.

The city must never be subjected to poor planning any more as the old adage goes – prevention is better than cure.