Don’t frolic in floodwaters especially near riverbanks where crocodiles may lurk, warns Deputy Premier

Part of the Batu Kawah Riverbank Park which was inundated with floodwaters after heavy rain. Photo credit: Dr Sim Kui Hian Facebook page

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 2: Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian has strongly advised the public against playing in floodwaters, including near the riverbank in Batu Kawah, as there could be crocodiles lurking nearby.

Referring to Batu Kawah Riverbank Park which was inundated by floodwaters following days of heavy rains, he warned that it is dangerous to play in these “temporary water parks” caused by flash floods as crocodiles are often sighted in the Batu Kawah section of Sarawak River.

“Thanks to our local architect’s design (where the park can contain) excess flood water, rather than flooding village houses,” he revealed in a Facebook post today.

Dr Sim, who is also Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government, noted that many urban areas in Sarawak are suffering from the same issues as Amsterdam and Copenhagen where cloudbursts—flashes of heavy rainfall—would often lead to flash flooding.

“While the dams could help with the excessive amount of rainwater from the river upstream, however the timing of releasing the excess water from upstream rivers at times can worsen the situation in urban areas downstream,” he said.

With that, Dr Sim has proposed turning a park at Pine Square, MJC into an anti-flood park with a sunken basin or retention pond feature to contain huge volumes of floodwaters when needed to avert flooding.

“In Sarawak, we need to educate (the public) and learn about some of these key concepts in climate adaptation. Experts had been sharing about building with nature or natural solutions as the way forward,” he said.

Having just returned from the Netherlands as part of a Sarawak delegation seeking to gain insight into water management techniques and technologies in flood protection, Dr Sim pointed out the need for Sarawak to focus on adopting natural solutions by creating “room for river” and “room for water” to enable green spaces like parks to play effective roles in handling torrential rain to prevent flooding while at the same time, providing community gardens for leisure and recreational activities.

The sunken basin, according to reports, acts as a giant container to retain water which can be released when needed. As for the surrounding recreational area with grass and plants, the soil can also absorb water, to prevent runoff into streets, pavements and outlying roads. — DayakDaily