By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, May 24: To improve river navigation, the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) has salvaged and removed 193 shipwrecks in rivers within Sarawak since 2001 while also completing localised dredging at Jalan Pasir Panas (Batang Lupar), Sri Aman and Kuala Baram, Miri.
Sarawak Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin said the safety of vessels navigating the rivers which are being used heavily by both the local settlement and commercial vessels will continue to be the priority of Ministry of Transport Sarawak (MOTS).
“To date, my Ministry through SRB has salvaged and removed a total of 193 shipwrecks in the rivers within Sarawak since year 2001.
“For those shipwrecks that cannot be removed, my Ministry has installed hazard markers to notify river users of the impending danger,” said Lee while delivering his winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) here today.
To improve the safety, functionality and usage of the existing wharves, MOTS through SRB has carried out quay site localised dredging for Sarawak’s cargo wharves.
“For these, we have completed localised dredging for our wharves at Jalan Pasir Panas (Batang Lupar) in Sri Aman and at Kuala Baram in Miri. We believe with dredging, more vessels will be able to use these facilities,” said Lee.
Meanwhile, he also reported that this year, MOTS through SRB will carry out improvement works to ensure the structural integrity of the barrages and shiplocks are maintained and the functionalities are improved for the benefit of all stakeholders.
He said one of the main components of a barrage and shiplock is the rainfall and water level telemetry stations. These stations sited along two tributaries of Sungai Sarawak are connected to the control centre at the Barrage building to monitor the real time water level for efficient operation of flood control.
“This year, my Ministry through SRB will upgrade the existing 24 telemetry stations to improve the efficiency of the operation,” said Lee, who is also Senadin assemblyman (GPS-SUPP).
To ensure compliance of regulation by all river users, he said the SRB enforcement team is always on the ground to carry out river patrols, especially during festive seasons and school holidays. For the first quarter of this year, SRB has issued 25 compounds to offenders during their enforcement operations.
Currently, there are 35 gazetted rivers with a total length of 5,000km, of which 3,500km or 70 per cent is navigable.
Lee reported in 2021, that there are approximately 460,043 passengers and 24,101 tonnes of cargo moving through passenger terminals and wharves along these gazetted rivers.
“In 2020 and 2021, SRB has collected RM 15.8 million riverine fees from the users including passenger and cargo boats. The fees collected are being used for upgrading and management of riverine facilities for the convenience, safety and security of river users.”
Another important function of MOTS is the installation of Aids to Navigation, or in short AtoNs, which consists of various types of navigation buoys, light beacons, transits, bridge lightings and signages for the safety of vessels plying in the rivers and specified water bodies for the prevention of collisions.
He said to date, SRB has installed 312 numbers of AtoNs in the rivers and five units of Yellow Marker Buoys for the purpose to demarcate a ‘No Entry’ zone in the specified water bodies.
“Specifically, my Ministry through SRB in collaboration with relevant agencies has installed AtoNs in Batang Ai and Bakun Hydroelectric Power Dams for the safety of local communities and in Tasik Biru, Bau on Mar 1, 2022 for the safety of tourists.
“This initiative will continue to be carried out in other specified water bodies,” said Lee. — DayakDaily