Govt urged to review flood-crisis preparedness: Voon

KUCHING: The government should take a relook at its level of preparedness in facing floods, especially in terms of facilities like boats and heavy machinery.

Wanita PKR national vice president Voon Shiak Ni, who made the call, said flood crisis in the state was something foreseeable; hence, relevant facilities should be in place at all times.

“The flood this time happened in many places, but help was lacking. Therefore, the government should look into ways to improve on areas such as providing rescue boats, flood relief centres and facilities for those affected,” she told a press conference here yesterday.

Voon said she was at Paradise Garden (in Batu Kitang) on Saturday night to visit residents who were stranded as the road to their homes was under between three and four feet of flood water.

“Some residents didn’t dare to walk across the water, fearing they could slip into the deep drain. The Civil Defence Department’s response to the residents’ call for help was good, but they lacked facilities such as rescue boats.”

She said the Civil Defence Department initially could not send boats to assist the affected residents as their boats were in Siburan and Padawan to assist the flood victims there.

“When they finally arrived and checked on the water level, they realised their boat could not pass through. In the end, they had to use someone else’s Jeep to ferry all the residents home.”

Voon said what the rescue personnel could do then was to coordinate with the armed forces to use their heavy machinery, such as trucks, to help ferry the people to their houses, considering the housing estate was just next to an army camp.

Nevertheless, she commended the Civil Defence Department personnel for assisting the residents. She also commended members of the crime watch group in the area for disseminating useful information to the residents.

Meanwhile, Voon said she supported SUPP president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang’s suggestions of relocating the villagers in Batu Kitang who were badly affected every time flood hits.

“It’s a very good idea. Maybe, one of the best ways is to resettle the villagers in Batu Kitang area, especially those in the old town. The flood there is quite bad, and I think the damage and losses to the families every time there is flood is something beyond repair.

“We were there last night (Saturday night), and we felt their frustrations. We also know resettling the residents may take time. But we want to know how many years it will take and how soon it can be in the pipeline in the development plan for Sarawak?”

In stressing that Batu Kitang had flooding problems for at least the last 20 years, Voon hoped the government could come up with immediate measures to assist the flood victims.

“When we went to the flood relief centres, their demands were on basic things, like floor mat and other personal things. But the sad thing is, every time their things were replaced, they will be damaged when floods happen again.”

Voon opined that deepening the nearby river depended very much on the condition of the river bed, but hoped a solution could be found soon.-Borneo Post

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