Sibu’s floods not caused by siltation — Robert Lau

Flooding of Sibu town in 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Lau).

KUCHING, August 13: Flooding of Sibu town is not caused by siltation, says senator Robert Lau.

Lau asserted that Sibu has been having flooding issues because of its geographical formation in a low-lying and peaty ground.

“The low-lying area of Sibu lies below king tide level. This means that the low lying areas will be flooded whenever there is king tide.

“The logical way to prevent this is to stop water from flowing inland during king tide, and this involves the building of bunds, pumping stations and retention ponds or lakes,” he explained in a press statement today.

He was responding to Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing who believed that clearing of siltation in the Rajang River would mitigate flood problems in Sibu.

Citing the coastal towns and villages of Daro, Oya, Dalat and Mukah which do not experience regular floods even when these places have worse siltation issues than in Sibu, Lau tried to justify his argument.

To further strengthen his point, Lau cited his personal experiences in preventing flooding in  his residential area which is beside the Rajang River by installing flood gates and building a bund at the river front which has silted up over the last two years.

“Now my place does not flood like before whenever the tide is high.

“The only effective solution for low lying areas is to build bunds to stop water from the river to flow inland during high tide,” he said and gave support to the ongoing flood mitigation methods implemented in Sibu.

Lau who is Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan chief also pointed out that Phase 1 to 3 of the Sibu flood mitigation project have received high level of satisfaction from the public as the areas covering from Upper Lanang to the junction of Jalan Ek Dee no longer have regular flooding problems.

Meanwhile, Lau presented a few black and white photos of Sibu town being flooded since time immemorial, emphasising that there was no siltation problem then but flooding was already a problem.

Sibu flood in the 1950s. (photo courtesy of Lau).

Besides this, he brought up the issue that RM10 million de-silting works had been carried out at Pulau Kereto, but the sand bar at the area returned in a few months and did not solve the root problem.

“If siltation is the main problem, then logically speaking, Sibu will be flooded all the time irrespective of the tide as water will continue to flow down from Upper Rajang. The water from up river will flow into the town area because water will always find a lower point to flow.

“The flow of water and the shape and depth of the river is dynamic. It does not stand still. It will always find a way to flow out through the lower ground. This is with or without siltation.

“Sibu folks have been facing flooding problem for more than a century. The solution for Sibu is to finish building the bunds, the pump stations and the retention ponds,” he said. —DayakDaily