PENAMPANG: Flood prevention measures have been implemented in Penampang district since 2016, said Pritchard Gumbaris, the political secretary of Penampang member of parliament Datuk Darell Leiking.
Pritchard said the then Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, had said in 2017, that the government had approved an allocation of RM481 million for the Penampang flood mitigation project which would comprise four phases involving construction of monsoon trenches, deepening and widening of rivers in the river area along Kg Sailan Putatan.
The contractor, Perisai Samudera, was appointed in early 2016 and they started work in November the same year.
“After the change of government in May 2018, a meeting was held, chaired by the district officer and attended by Darell himself. The Drainage and Irrigation Department reported a number of issues that had hindered their progress and caused delay in construction works which are scheduled to be completed by 2021.
“The issues raised were the compensation/land acquisition and utilities transfer such as the SESB pillars and the Sabah Water Department pipeline but the issue had been resolved in several areas especially in the Kibabaig area,” Pritchard disclosed after presenting aid to the flood victims in the district.
He added that however, according to a recent report by the Drainage and Irrigation Department, the process of widening and deepening the river in some areas of Putatan was not possible as some villagers living along the river did not agree with the compensation offered and some refused to consider any compensation offer made by the department.
When asked to comment on political activist Zainal Ajamain’s statement blaming agricultural activities in Moyog area for the flood, Pritchard said the Penampang MP metioned that it was Zainal’s personal view and that it was improper to simply point fingers and blame the hardworking farmers for making a living for their families.
“However, Darell mentioned that the district office and the Department of Environment should conduct a thorough environmental impact assessment before any hill clearing or cutting down of trees to avoid potential cause of flooding,” he added.
Last year, the Penampang District Environmental Action Committee was reactivated after being redundant for 10 years and among the issues raised were uncontrolled hill cutting and no evaluation reports from the Department of Environment.
The overlying hills are not able to absorb the rain quickly, causing excess water flowing into the Moyog River and resulting in soil deposition and the river becomes shallow.
Darell had asked the ministry directly responsible for flood mitigation development, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Junz Wong to take immediate action to expedite the process of flood mitigation development and to resolve the issue of land compensation/acquisition, Pritchard said.
On June 27, heavy and prolonged rain caused severe flooding in several parts of the West Coast of Sabah such as Kota Belud, Tuaran, Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan, Papar and Kimanis.
The flood aid presentation organised by the Penampang Parliamentary Service Centre was supervised by Darell.
According to Pritchard, most of the 2,637 food aids had been distributed to those affected by the flood which occurred last weekend.
“To date, 2,000 of the aid packages had been distributed based on the list prepared by the respective villages’ MPKK. Other than the food aid, the Penampang Parliamentary Service Centre also organised teams of volunteers from various organizations including from Warisan Penampang to help out with the post-flood cleaning work,” he said.