Monday, February 17

Lee: All idle land must have fire breakers, planted with crops


Lee (second left) at the press conference. Also seen from left are Salehuddin, Abdul Aziz and Law.

MIRI: All idle land owned by private individuals must have fire breakers, and planted with crops to avoid the yearly haze due to forest fires and other open burning activities.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture and Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin said this was the  long-term plan of the Sarawak government to fight bush fires instead of leaving the land idle.

“The government is serious in tackling the yearly haze due to land left unattended. It was agreed during a recent state disaster committee meeting, which was chaired by its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, that landowners must comply with the directive; to build fire breakers, clear their land of bushes, and plant cash crops,” Lee told a press conference at Bomba Airwing in Miri Airport yesterday.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Miri deputy director of operation Commander Salehuddin Zakaria, acting Resident Abdul Aziz Yusof, state Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) Miri head Joseph Oyo, and Fire and Rescue Department Miri chief Law Poh Kiong were among those present.

According to Lee, private land left unattended and overgrown with bushes could easily catch fire, which could spread fast if there were no fire breakers.

The land owners should plant crops such as pineapples, corns, and fruit trees on the land to reduce the occurrence of bush fires. He also praised the relevant agencies in the fight against bush fires in Kuala Baram, such as the Fire and Rescue Department, MMEA, and Civil Defence.

He added that he had told Abdul Aziz to inform the landowners to comply with the new directives in order to put an end to the yearly haze. Law, meanwhile, said they had managed to tackle about 90 per cent of the fires here since the outbreak started earlier this month.

“There are still a few hotspots within the 50-acre land in Kuala Baram, especially in sectors 1 and 2 which are still on fire causing smoke to blanket much of the area.”

Law added that his personnel and volunteers had created fire breakers using excavators at sector 1 not far from the Kuala Baram ILP road to contain the fire.

Joseph, meanwhile, said they had issued five compounds to open burning offenders.

He, however, declined to say if the land in question were farms or idle private land because investigation is still ongoing.

Yesterday, MMEA personnel joined firemen in fighting a raging fire at sectors 1 and 2 within the 50-acre land in Kuala Baram.

Lee said smoke was still seen near a plantation at sector 1 while fire was still raging at sector 2 because it is out of the reach of fire engines. It was also reported yesterday that the first sortie of aerial bombing would be carried out at the two sectors in the afternoon.