New contractor starts work on ‘sick’ fire station project in Batu Niah

The incomplete Batu Niah fire station.

By Nancy Nais

MIRI, April 24: The long-delayed Batu Niah fire station may become a reality by this year-end as a new contractor, HH Build Construction Sdn Bhd, has been roped in to take over this languishing project.

The project was initially contracted to a firm for a sum of RM5 million. Work began on Aug 14, 2015, and it was supposed to be completed on Nov 13, 2016 (or 15 months).

But the contract was terminated on Oct 26, 2017, due to the failure to complete the project despite being given a revised completion date. The delay was due to financial constraints, poor construction management, lack of coordination and insufficient manpower.

The proposed fire station sits on 2 acres at Jalan Gunung, which is about a five-minute walk from Batu Niah town.

Miri fire chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said the Public Works Department (JKR) office here handed over the Letter of Project Site Reconstruction to HH Build Construction yesterday, but work had actually started on April 17 and is scheduled to be completed this December (8 months) at a cost of RM2.3 million.

Law (right) with representatives from HH Build Construction Sdn Bhd and JKR northern region exchanging documents at the long-delayed Batu Niah fire station project site.

The project comprises, among others, a single-storey building for the fire station, four units of Class F quarters, a training tower and a store.

“The completion of the Batu Niah fire station project is something that we in Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) look forward to as it has been delayed for years.

“The station is very much needed here by the people and also to support other fire stations near Miri in the event of fire outbreaks,” explained Law, adding that the nearest fire station to Niah is in Miri, which is about 70km away.

He added that although Miri currently had two fire stations, it had to cover a very big area.

Meanwhile, state Bomba director Khirudin Drahman also hoped that the project would be completed on time for the benefit of the people.

He said that based on the topography and accessibility, Sarawak needed to have more fire stations.

“We take note of the government’s current constraints, but for the sake of our rakyat and better fire coverage, positive and favourable considerations should be given.

“Based on our risk mapping, we also need more trained firefighters in the state, either full time, auxiliary or volunteers for Bomba komuniti, emergency response team (ERT) and fire safety organisation program (OKK),” he said when contacted today.

The incomplete Batu Niah fire station’s training tower.

Bomba Sarawak has been campaigning non-stop to emphasise (a) the critical first five minutes when a fire starts, (b) implementing total fire cover such as the 3P concept ‘Precaution, Prevention and Protection’, (c) visiting and educating the rural communities on good housekeeping and self-auditing.

“We also appoint tuai rumah, penghulu and pemanca to be champions in fire prevention and safety. All this that we do goes back to the communities because they are the ones that will benefit.

“Again, I am repeating this, fire prevention is a joint responsibility and not just that of the fire department. Bomba cannot cover the whole of Sarawak alone. Therefore, we need help and cooperation from all, including those villages in the rural areas that are far flung from the nearest fire station,” he emphasised.

While Bomba has always been sincere in their efforts of engaging the local communities on fire safety and prevention, Khirudin humbly hoped that all Sarawakians would work together with them for a better Sarawak. — DayakDaily