By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Aug 12: Precise and detailed surveys of both the Rajang and Igan rivers must be carried out in order to identify the location of serious siltation areas before dredging can be done as a long-term flood mitigation solution, asserts PDP president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.
“Meticulous surveys must be carried out first, because the Rajang and Igan Rivers have not been improved nor upgraded for more than 60 years, and many areas with high siltation are experiencing low tides, with some spots even doubling as football fields for the locals there.
“Before any relevant riverbed survey can be completed, relying solely on insufficient data and information to make arbitrary decisions on flood mitigation planning will not lead to effective long-term solutions.
“Therefore, we need to know which are the affected areas in order to tackle the flooding situation effectively,” the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president put forward in a statement issued here today.
He pointed out that the width and depth of the two rivers can change daily and the surveys must take into account that freight ships of several thousand tonnes used to be able to ply the Rajang River but now find it difficult to do so.
“We must understand that the previous dredging project in Pulau Kerto will inevitably be ineffective as the Rajang River is experiencing blockage due to debris.
“It will not do to carry out piecemeal projects in isolated spots. Doing so will not bring an overall lasting solution. It is better to allow for survey work to be completed, which will lead to an effective plan to be formed,” he stressed.
At the same time, Tiong, who is also the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China reiterated that it must also take into account the Rajang River is the main channel for the discharge of large volumes of water from the Bakun Dam and the upcoming Baleh Dam.
“Therefore, it is vital that we ensure the river can accommodate the expected deluge of river water or risk the entire Sibu becoming flooded like Atlantis,” he said.
Tiong who was born and raised in Sibu but moved to Bintulu where he eventually became its MP, highlighted he was obliged to comment as he has received many complaints from residents near the Rajang and Igan Rivers expressing dissatisfaction with the insistence of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) to build pumping stations during the fourth phase of the flood mitigation project in response to persistent flooding there.
“They harbour well-founded doubts on where the vast amounts of water pumped will be directed to, as the Rajang and Igan (rivers) have been clogged by runaway upstream activities for many years.
“I personally think that the Sibu DID must also calculate the expenditure needed to implement the survey works as soon as possible.
“With the correct plans, the required funding will not be excessive, with only the related survey software and vessels required,” added Tiong. — DayakDaily