KUCHING, Oct 2: The recent flash flood calls for greater accountability and urgency to implement flood mitigation projects as well as more effective drainage maintenance in Kuching.
Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to state Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, said despite no loss of life during the recent floods, there was still an urgency to carry out these flood mitigation projects as the floods had caused property damage and business losses.
He said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had announced the allocation of RM95 million for the implementation of flood mitigation projects in Kuching out of the total RM1.8 billion allocation.
“These projects that are supposed to be carried out in phases have been reported to be delayed due to different technicalities. The project sites included the Central Padang, which was one of the flash flood locations. And this project was reportedly still only at the drawing stage and has been taken over by the state government,” Dr Yii pointed out.
He said due to climate change and the higher volume of rain, flash floods may be a more common occurrence in future and that is why there is greater urgency to speed up these flood mitigation projects.
On the related issue of the state’s allocation for upgrading of drains, he said these funds needed to be audited with greater accountability to ensure that they were used for their intended purposes.
“The state government has this year allocated up to RM100 million for the upgrade of drains.
“Such funds have to be audited with greater accountability so that every sen of it is put to its best use and achieves its intended purpose since they are public funds.
“The projects also have to be monitored so that they are completed on schedule without any further delay,” said Dr Yii.
He also urged the local authorities and relevant departments to perform drainage maintenance works regularly as Irrigation and Drainage Department had admitted that flooding in Kuching was caused by blocked drains.
“With our people paying the assessment rate every six months, the councils are duty-bound to carry out dredging and clearing of drainage regularly.”
He said the constant occurrence of flash floods pointed to the lack of dedication on the part of the local councils and their councillors.
“This points to the need of local council elections. We, the people should be given back the rights of choosing our councillors, which we used to have in the 1960s to promote greater accountability.
“I thus urge Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian to seriously look into this matter and consider returning the power to the people,” said Dr Yii. — DayakDaily