Thursday, August 6

Serian wants its own air quality monitoring station


The thick haze at a stretch of Pan Borneo Highway road under construction in Serian.

SERIAN: The people here want an air quality monitoring station to be set up in the division to measure the exact Air Pollutant Index (API) for the division due to the seemingly worsening haze.

Serian has no choice but to depend on the nearest station in Samarahan for the API reading. The people are disputing it (reading) as not being representative of the true picture in the division.

Due to its close proximity to Indonesia, the transboundary haze is now causing many areas in the division to be engulfed in thick haze, which also affects the visibility levels.

Their anxiety grew yesterday as schools (in Serian) remained open despite the thick haze just because the API recorded in Samarahan was below 200. (Schools are required to close for the day if API breaches 200 or very unhealthy level)

Questions such as ‘What is the actual API reading in Serian? and ‘Aren’t our schools supposed to be closed? are now being asked through various social media platforms by those in Serian who are worried about the worsening situation.

Bukit Semuja assemblyman John Ilus, who shared their worry, said it was high time that an API monitoring station is built either in Serian or Tebedu districts, which borders Kalimantan, Indonesia.

“There is no proper API reading in Serian , and worst still in Tebedu, as Serian Division depends entirely on Samarahan API reading.

“As such, school authorities are in the dark either to close or keep the schools open, whereas the parents are concerned about the health of their children. The various calls, SMSes, WhatsApp messages and all means of communications by the public show their concern.

“We thus request the government through the relevant authorities such as Department of Environment to take some initiatives like getting the proper API reading for Serian and/or Tebedu either through their mobile or temporary teams,”he suggested.

Meanwhile, he advised parents and school authorities to keep children away from physical or outdoor activities due to the seemingly worsening haze.

“Also, I would like to ask the Education Department to close the badly-affected schools for a few days until the situation improves,” he added.

Tebedu District Office also suggested for an API monitoring station to be built in Tebedu as a long term solution to this matter.

Its district officer Raymond Achen said the actual API there could be worse than the one recorded in Samarahan station.

“We came up with this suggestion considering the proximity of Tebedu District to West Kalimantan compared to the distance from Samarahan. Once we have a station here, the exact air quality can be found out.

“The problem now is that schools here are still opened because we have to follow
orders that schools cannot be closed if the API reading is below 200.

“But, the situation here clearly shows a different picture,” he said.