Waterway blockade – Marine cops shut off river access as residents in two villages come under EMCO

Uggah speaking to reporters during a visit to Kampung Bintawa Tengah and Ulu which are placed under EMCO for two weeks until March 30. Photos credit: Dr Sim's Facebook page

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 17: The marine police have been roped in for the first time to block access along the waterways to Kampung Bintawa Tengah and Kampung Bintawa Ulu where some 4,200 residents have been placed under two-weeks Enhance Movement Control Order (EMCO) beginning yesterday until March 30.

State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah informed that mass testings for four days will be conducted starting today (March 17) to determine the extent of the spread of Covid-19 in the huge village settlement within the Kuching city.

“This is a huge ‘kampung’ (village) with a total of 750 houses and a population of 4,200 people.

“This is why we (SDMC) have decided to start the EMCO early (on March 16) in order to make early preparations as well as to identify the routes that can be used to access the villages,” he said when visiting the villages yesterday.

As the villages can also be accessed via the Sarawak River, Uggah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, thus emphasised that enforcement will be placed and tightened not only to block roads access to the villages but also along the waterways.

Uggah (second right) speaking to an officer as the State Health Department gets ready to conduct mass testing for residents of the two villages. Also seen is Dr Sim (fourth right).

“Other than enforcing roadblocks, police will also patrol the alternative routes which can be used to access the villages including the waterways.

“This has been taken into account by the police who have tasked the marine police to monitor the waterways,” he said.

With all measures in place, Uggah pointed out that this will enable full focus on carrying out the mass screenings or Active Case Detection (ACD).

“But I am confident that the residents will cooperate,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, who accompanied Uggah to the visit, disclosed that this was the first EMCO enforcement that involved the marine police.

The villages were the fifth areas in Kuching District to be placed under EMCO following a spike in Covid-19 cases with 22 new infections reported on March 15. -DayakDaily