KUCHING, July 24: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Betong chief Vernon Kedit and deputy chief Noel Bucking visited the site of four burnt shophouses in Betong this morning.
They were briefed on the incident by the neighbouring shopkeepers who said the heat of the blaze could be felt fifty metres away from the source of the fire.
The shopkeepers also praised the swift response of the nearby SK Chung Hua Fire Brigade Volunteer Corps which vigorously arrested the blaze.
The Saratok Fire Brigade and the Betong Fire Brigade were also commended by the townsfolk for their fire-fighting efficiency to stop the blaze from spreading to the rest of the block of shops.
After visiting the site, Kedit and Bucking paid a visit to the Betong Fire and Rescue Station to meet with it operations officer Henry Jugah, who briefed them on the incident.
Jugah also briefed the PKR team on the Standard Operating Procedures of the station, as well as the difficulties faced by the station in terms of equipment, a vast locality, and inadequate staffing.
“The concerns raised by the Betong Fire Station would be brought to the attention of the Federal Minister for Housing and Local Government, and PKR will endeavour to facilitate the interfacing of Federal and State development in such matters,” said Vernon.
However, he hoped that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will also do its part to ensure that the state will not neglect its duties to monitor public safety agencies by relegating all responsibilities to the federal authorities.
“YB (Deputy Chief Minister) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, as chairman of the State Disaster Management and Relief Committee, must be more alert and proactive in ensuring a comprehensive programme of post-disaster relief,” said Vernon.
Noel, who was a former senior officer with the State Planning Unit, said that the issues faced by Betong Fire Station are likely faced by other sub-urban fire stations in the state.
He urged the state government not to overlook prioritising development of sub-urban public safety agencies.
According to Jugah, a team from the Kuching Fire and Rescue Department will be taking charge of the investigations as the blaze was classified as a case of “100 per cent burnt.”
He said the Fire and Rescue Department will work in tandem with the police in ascertaining the cause of the fire.
“PKR will follow up and monitor closely the findings of the investigation to ensure precautionary and preventive measures are taken by the state government,” said Vernon. — DayakDaily