Efforts underway to amend Sarawak Building Ordinance to better meet public needs

Khirudin (fifth left), Mohamad Fauzi (seventh left), Henderi (third left) and senior department officers pose for a group photo with FC recipients.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Oct 6: The Ministry of Local Government and Housing will look into amending the Sarawak Building Ordinance (SBO) 1994 to fit the current needs of the community.

A joint technical consultative committee recently met to look into matters pertaining to the growing numbers of illegal small hotels, inns or even homestays which have been mushrooming across Sarawak lately.

According to Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman, a task force led by the ministry together with related enforcement agencies will be set up to oversee the violation of SBO requirements in the aspects of safety involving human beings and property, as well as the environment.

However, the amendment needs to be tabled in the State Legislative Assembly to be approved and gazetted before it can be enforced.

“The SBO was dated in 1994. After 26 years, an amendment is needed to make it relevant to present needs. The law needs to be enhanced and at the same time, in line with the state government’s aspiration to develop Sarawak by 2030.

“The committee, initiated by the minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian met yesterday to see and discuss over the community’s concern on these small hotels, inns or homestays that were erected or renovated not in accordance to the legal fire safety regulations,” Khirudin told reporters after officiating at a fire certificate (FC) handover ceremony here today.

He explained that while the government and authorities understand the current situation and economic downturn, safety aspects must never be compromised nor sidelined just because everyone in business need to survive.

“We discussed the issue prudently, taking into consideration why and what are the problems faces by those who had to run their business without licence, which led to no FC and that means no fire safety. From the meeting, I can see that Dr Sim and the state government are eager to solve this problem the best way they can.

“On our side (Bomba), as an authority department, we do not want the people to have negative perceptions that we are being mean or difficult, but when it comes to the law, they must comply. That is why we give them time and advise them on what must be done,” Khirudin said.

He also pointed out that there were cases where the premises concerned are not illegal, but they could not get their FC due to documentation problems.

Some, he added, have a legal business licence to operate, the building is safe and so on, but chose not to apply for FC because they need more time or they don’t understand the law; therefore they just go ahead or ‘hantam’ and continue to operate.

“When it involves money, any anyone who starts a business expects to see their return as fast as possible. They will open their premises without thinking twice when it comes to legal aspects or fire safety because they need to survive in the business so they choose to put the laws behind them. That is the problem,” he asserted.

Khirudin also stressed that the five critical components in total fire safety management, namely the authorities, designers, builders, inspectors and occupiers, must comply wholeheartedly with requirements to make life and fire safety a priority.

Meanwhile, 10 premises including several hotels in Kuching received their FC from Khirudin this afternoon.

Among those who attended the event were assistant director fire and safety Mohamad Fauzi Mohamat Kifli, Kuching zone fire chief Henderi Ardimansyah and several senior officers from the department. — DayakDaily