Dredging Igan, Rejang riverbeds best solution for Sibu’s flooding problems: Tiong

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

KUCHING, August 15: Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has insisted that the best, sustainable way to address flooding problems in Sibu is to deepen both the Igan and Rejang riverbeds.

However, he said, before dredging is done to deepen the rivers, proper research and survey studies must be done by relevant authorities such as the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID).

“I have always insisted (maintained) that before the complete survey report is released, any implementation of a water mitigation project will always lack a forward-looking plan.

“If the project is completed but still unable to contain the flood, there will be hell to pay and as always, it is the people who will suffer the most even if such a failed project is ‘reviewed’.

“Based on my experience with dredging projects, I have discussed extensively with DID to arrive at more effective similar solutions to solve long-standing problems and ease the people’s burdens,” Tiong said in a statement issued here today.

He was rebutting SUPP Bawang Assan chairman Senator Robert Lau who has insisted that such surveying work was unnecessary and suggested other methods such as the building of pumping stations, bunds and elevating roads.

“We need to find the most efficient response to the problem. These survey works will certainly cost much less than the enormous expenditure he (Lau) is proposing. Compared to the previous few water control projects in Sibu, this is something which must be considered in-depth,” Tiong said.

Tiong stated that he understood Sibu’s flooding situation well as he was born and raised in Sibu before later migrating to Bintulu, where he subsequently became its MP.

“I have lived on the Rejang River with my family since 1962. During my student days, I often followed my father carrying chicken and eggs to sell in downtown Sibu.

“When I left Sibu in the 1980s, Lau was not even there yet. Even if you live there, you have only moved there recently. Don’t mislead the people by saying otherwise.

“In my long years there, I have a good knowledge of how deep the riverbed is when looking out from the pier and know how it has changed over the decades. This is why I have repeatedly insisted on surveys to be done first.

“Why is it that the waters of the Rejang and Igan are now unable to recede during the low tide, with the water level remaining the same at high and low tides?

“This is because both rivers seriously lack the space for their water to discharge. Where would the flood go when water discharged from the HEP dams upstream cannot be redirected safely?”

As such, he hoped that Lau should first seek to understand the holistic issues surrounding water resources management and flood mitigation, instead of referencing paper theories and comparing modern times to the 1950s.

“Lau should stop leading the people on a merry-go-round by scoffing at calls for survey and research works on the affected rivers. Instead, he chooses to give anecdotal testimony as if that is evidence enough and bring people back to the olden times. His motivations for doing so should raise suspicions,” he added.

Tiong, who is also Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to People’s Republic of China said Lau, who is the SUPP’s Bawang Assan branch chairman, has opted to forego common sense solutions with unnecessarily complex methods to mitigate the issue at hand.

“They have included building pumping stations, bunds, elevating roads, all of which entail enormous cost to public funds. Has he lost touch with reality? How far is the distance from Durin to the lower parts of Sibu? How much will all his grand plans cost? Can Lau even fathom the reality of the situation?” he asked.

Tiong said it was nonsensical for Lau to use photos from the 1950s to discuss flooding issues in Sibu to matters.

“Neither I nor Lau was even born yet. Should I be showing him photos of the town from World War II when we discuss policies?

“Water management and policy planning should not be based on historical situations but by considering the future situation as a result of the current day,” added Tiong.—DayakDaily