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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, March 26: The delivery of water must reach affected areas within six hours to help the people cope with water shortages during the dry season.
State Natural Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the six hours response time, upon receiving a complaint or report, must be achieved regardless of the geographical condition or remoteness of the affected areas.
The deputy chief minister added that all Resident’s Offices statewide have been told to prepare its assets and service delivery to assist the people in the event of drought.
“Water must be delivered to the affected areas within six hours upon receiving a complaint. Water is a very important part in our daily lives; we do not want to hear any complaint (of shortage of water).
“That is why all Resident’s Offices are equipped with assets to ensure efficient mobilisation of water delivery,” he told a press conference after chairing a post mortem on damages caused by flood in Sarawak this year.
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah was present at the meeting held at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.
With the dry season expected to hit Sarawak between March and May, Uggah advised rural communities to be prepared to face water shortages.
“Based on our experience last year, water delivery is one of the main issues but we have learned from our shortcomings and the problems we had faced.
“We have distributed water tanks and the first priority is to fill up these tanks. This will be the first programme we carry out (starting today if possible),” he said.
Uggah said five helicopters, five drones, 172 lorries, 549 vans and four-wheel-drive vehicles, 109 ambulances and 283 boats have been prepared as government agencies beefed up their assets for the coming dry season. The government will also rent private assets to send water to remote areas when needed.
When asked on areas affected by drought and water shortages thus far, Uggah said there were several villages in rural and remote areas across the state.
Touching on the flood impact this year, Uggah said 10 relief centres were set up in Kuching, Samarahan, Betong, Sibu and Bintulu, which accommodated 852 victims including 196 families.
He added that floods had caused several soil erosion incidents, which affected property, main road connectivity and other public facilities.
He said 17 cases of soil erosion were reported in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sibu and Kapit, affecting homes, cemeteries and bridges connecting villages and longhouses.
Soil erosion during the monsoon season had disconnected three roads in Bintulu, Miri and Sarikei. Uggah expressed satisfaction that the Public Works Department was quick to resolve the issues.
The deputy chief minister also reported that 38 schools from nine divisions in Kuching, Samarahan, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang were affected by flood, involving 3,671 students, 517 teachers and 239 non-academic personnel.
The flood this year also affected seven health clinics in Kuching, Serian, Sibu and Bintulu, he added.
“A total of 606 families affected by flood have applied and received cash aid totalling RM303,000 from the respective district offices.
“The state Welfare Department meanwhile, channeled aid totalling RM17,914 to manage nine flood cases, as well as RM6,900 for two soil erosion cases in Limbang,” he explained. — DayakDaily