Rep suggests insurance for longhouses

MIRI: A proposal has been made by an assemblyman for all longhouses in the state to have insurance coverage.

Dennis Ngau, the assemblyman for Telang Usan, made this suggestion when visiting fire victims in Long Anyat in the interior of Baram on Monday, saying the insurance would be a cover against fire and natural disasters.

“No insurance company selling or offering insurance have come up with insurance coverage against fire or other disasters. Therefore, it is quite hard and difficult and costly for them to rebuild or repair the damage done to their longhouses,” he reasoned.

“Most of them are poor and depend on their farm, jungle and river for living and have no proper income.

“With the insurance coverage, they will have some compensation for the damage caused by fire and other disasters such as landslide which they can use to rebuild their longhouses,” he added.

Though the government usually would provide assistance to rebuild their longhouses and provide immediate assistance, he said there was a limit to how much and how far it could help.

He also noted that sometimes it took quite some time for the victims to repair and rebuild their longhouses due to insufficient funds.

Nevertheless, he understood the worries and constraints of insurance companies in giving longhouses insurance coverage.

“They don’t want to take any risk if they do not meet the criteria. Most of the design and material used don’t really meet the criteria,” he added.

As such, he urged the government through the Ministry of Housing and Housing Commission to come up with an insurance coverage scheme for longhouses, considering the devastating impact caused by fire in rural and remote areas in Baram and other parts of the state.

Acknowledging that most rural communities did not know much about fire fighting, he urged the Fire and Rescue Department to provide them with proper training on fire fighting and give them fire fighting equipment.

As most rural areas are far from the Fire and Rescue station, he proposed that longhouses and villages set up their own volunteer fire fighting squad to be first responders during fire incidents.

Dennis was accompanied by Miri Welfare Department officer Joseph Lau and headman Johnny Belong. - Borneo Post

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