Cleaning up time for the lady at Kampong Blimbin, Bau after the flood subsides on Monday. That night, the flood level was as seen on the cement wall, about eight foot of water where the lady is standing.
Natural disasters and how to overcome them had been, are and will be the challenges for every Government in power, including in USA where Hurricane Katrina had created havoc. In Malaysia we are mainly concerned with flooding. Unless every level of the Government is alert and concern about it, flooding will remain to be a nuisance to everybody affected, private or public.
One of my main concern while I had the power to address the problems caused by floods was to make make sure minimal disruptions to everyday activities and life because of communication cut-off. But it is sad to say, I was also the victim from Saturday 10th January to yesterday, the 12th when finally I was able to return at 8.00 pm swimming through the last protion of Batu Kawa road, a stretch of about 0.5 kilometer some at four feet of water, in my Landcruiser while other in smaller cars lined up to wait or had to used the Matang detour to Taman Malihah and Satok way. Luckily my vehicle could “swim”( but rather ploughing through the water) without an incident.
Another five foot at the end of this section at the bridge would have the road passable throughout the flood. Even with the other parts clear on Monday the motorist still have to wait till about five pm before this section is clear of the flood water.
Yet my hassles and others delays and problems would have occurred if only the implementors and consultants who were employed by the Taxpayers had done their jobs MORE diligently. As to the Batu Kawa portion of the flooded road, I had told JKR about the need to raise that portion of the road earlier, but yet with the completion of the dual highway the level is almost the same as the old one, even though they should have learned the needed lessons during the 2004 great flood. Whose faults then for all the unneeded miseries caused by the present flood over the last few days. Even the District Officer was caught for two days without change etc. Luckily Bau Town was still open, so he could get what he needed. Like me only last night, he was able to go home. But for Bau hospital, they caught with one doctor working two days without relief while the others were stuck in Kuching and elsewhere. Luckily for the Government, there was no real emergencies except for the poor who got their houses flooded and suffered from the losses of their belongings, because they could not afford to buy or build houses in a non flood prone areas, like Kampong Pengkalan Bau, Buso and Siniawan as well Bidayuh villages like my own where I was stuck in my Kampong House for the last two days.
Rations reliefs were sent by helicopters yesterday though to my kampong and the surrounding areas affected by the flood, thanks to the concerned and hard work of the Bau Flood Relief Committee. In fact I met the Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri George and the Deputy State Secretary at Bau Hospital yesterday but unfortunately without the respective BN representatives from the Constituency. Presumably they were busy elsewhere though.
Immediate relief was going on quite well but the Government could have done better if they had marked all the flood sections of the roads with bamboo poles or other alternatives with clear signs to show how deep the flood level is. It would have made it easier for monitoring as well as for traffic to decide whether to “swim” through or not. These markers can be used for future planning especially in the upgrading of the main trunk roads.
For example Krokong/Jagoi areas need not be cut off from Bau if the Taiton section and a few more sections are raised by four to five feet. Bau needs not be cut off from Kuching if only the two portions, Siniawan and Kranji/Tanjong Durian, which were upgraded to make the old Bau road weather proof. Yet in some areas, it was under five to six feet of water, because of poor specifications by the Consultants and subsidence on certain areas because of substandard contract works, making the road impassable to traffic for two days.
Thus unless we have proper records of flood levels in flood prone areas to guide future planning and implementation of projects, we will have more unnecessary problems due to poor implementations by the respective agencies involved in future.
This was on Monday afternoon. The flood level was about three foot higher during Sunday. It is said that the people have to “rescue the Police first” as their first floor had to be evacuated first. Luckily this time all the water-sensitive properties had been relocated to the first floor after the 2004 debacle, when they lost many items to the flood. But why this site was chosen by the Siting Committee knowing the area is flood-prone and secondly why didn’t the consultant insisted the site be dumped up to the road level at least. The Sebuku road, which still under water was known to everyone in Bau to be flooded to the present to everyone in Bau, except apparently to the Chairman of the Siting Committee and the Consultant to the project. It appears that the To Peh Kong Committee is more aware of the flood level than the Consultant, which designed the complex and supervised the contractor during the construction and the Siting Committee. What had gone wrong in between to make the Bau Police to be the first to be rescued?
Hopefully the Government has learned all the lessons so that future floods will be less disruptive, not only in Bau but throughout Sarawak and if possible Malaysia. The main trunk roads should be built to be weather-proof, meaning the level to which they must be constructed must be above the highest known flood level. Police stations and critical government buildings must be sited in a non flood prone areas, where possible. If not, then the site of any buildings should dumped to raise it above the known flood level at the very least. Access to these buildings must be also flood proofed where possible.