What happened to Kuching and Sibu flood mitigation projects?

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING, Dec 13: Are the RM8 billion and RM850 million flood mitigation projects, which have been approved for Kuching and Sibu respectively, still ongoing?

Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar posed this question after attempts to find out about the status of these projects but to no avail.

“After the 14th General Election (GE14), these projects were ‘put on hold’. I raised the issue in Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) and personally with the Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources (Dr Xavier Jayakumar) a simple answer was given – ‘semua projek di teruskan’ (all projects will be continued).

“Now, nothing is really known about the Kuching and Sibu Flood Mitigation projects,” he told DayakDaily today.

Wan Junaidi, who was former Natural Resources and Environment Minister, pointed out that flash flood in Kuching was a long standing issue which occurred especially during heavy rain and worsened with the king tides.

“The recurrences of flash flood are expected when these two natural phenomena meet. It rained quite heavily recently and the king tide is approaching, thus flash floods occurred in several areas in Kuching including suburbs, Stakan and Kota Samarahan areas.”

The impact of flash floods, he emphasised, was not only in bringing cities and towns to a standstill but also endangering lives and destroying properties.

“The State DID (Drainage and Irrigation Department) in collaboration with the federal DID made a study and came out with a proposal to the federal government in 2013 and the programme was approved by the federal government.

“Comprehensive data crunching and analysis including the impact of climate change and weather pattern using big data analysis for 50 to 100 years into the future was carried out. This is done to give maximum long term measure to save the city in adverse weather condition,” he explained.

Among the approved flood mitigation projects were two big flood mitigation projects – one in Kuching and the other in Sibu, as well as several medium size projects for Miri and Bintulu, all of which were to be implemented in stages from 2014 to 2022.

Wan Junaidi disclosed that the RM8 billion Kuching flood mitigation project, which will take six years to implement, was the most comprehensive as it involved the constructions of six-kilometre diversion canal, one tidal gate, two bridges as well as the introduction of stormwater drainage and water retention system.

According to him, after the January 2016 flood, a study was carried out by the DID federal and state with inputs from Dutch consultants.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment then decided to give priority for Kuching first with the stormwater drainage in which both late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak agreed.

The initial allocation of RM250 million approved for Sibu was to be split into two where RM150 million was for Kuching and RM100 million for Sibu.

“The RM150 million to address the stormwater and drainage problem in identified critical areas in Kuching was there and the project was supposed to begin end of 2019.

“Sibu was partially done and had shown tremendous positive impact on downtown Sibu especially in Lanang areas. The RM100 million for the Phase III of Sibu Flood Mitigation was supposed to begin work in June, 2019,” he said.

“But now, no one has a clue on the latest development with regards to the flood mitigation projects in both Sibu and Kuching,” he added.— DayakDaily