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Department of Irrigation and Drainage Sarawak

Senator pushes for Phase 4 of flood mitigation project to take off
Posted on : 16 Aug 2020  Source of News: The Borneopost online

SIBU: It has been pointed out that using Holland as an example on how to handle flood is not suitable because Holland’s fight is with the sea while Sibu is not surrounded by the sea.

Stating this, Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew opined that if the sea can be held at bay by the bunds, dykes, pump stations and reservoirs, all the more it will work for low lying areas subject to flood from the river, like Sibu.

“I shall choose another example to support the solution to the problem of flooding in Sibu, which lies in building bunds, pump stations and reservoirs. Before that, I would like to point out that this is exactly what Drainage and Irrigation Department ( DID) is doing for Sibu to tackle the flooding issue.

“DID has carried out major studies before it was implemented in 2008,” he said in his press statement yesterday.

Lau, who is Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan branch chairman, said a group of experts from China was engaged to review the DID plan after being challenged by the late assemblyman Wong Ho Leng in 2011.

The Chinese experts endorsed the DID plan, he said.

“The example is Wuhan and the neighbouring city of Huangshi in Hubei Province, China.

“The city is situated along China’s longest river, the Yangtze. It is about 400 km inland.

“Sibu is very similar to Wuhan  in this respect as Sibu is situated about 110km inland of Rajang. Geologically and geographically Sibu is worse off compared to Wuhan because Sibu is situated on peaty and low lying ground.

“With peat, the ground level sinks when the organic waste that made up the bulk of the peat decomposed or when the area is drained.

“Wuhan terrain is also flat but at least she sits on solid ground. Huangshi is surrounded by two big lakes but has a nice hill in the center of the city,” he added.

However, he pointed out that both Wuhan and Huangshi had faced severe flooding problems with many lives lost.

That was one of the reasons for building the Three Gorges Dam which is similar to the role played by Bakun Dam here, he said.

“I visited Wuhan and Huangshi slightly less than two years ago with the main aim of seeing the way the two cities deal with the flooding problem. The floods were caused by water overflowing the Yangtze.

“The two cities have built multiple layers of bunds along the river bank to prevent water from overflowing the inland. The two cities also have several pump stations and continue to upgrade and build new ones,” he said.

Phase 4 of the Sibu flood mitigation project is essential for Sibu urban renewal and the redevelopment of the slum of Bukit Assek/Tiong Hua Road, he added.

According to Lau, for about two weeks in July this year, the water level of Rajang did not drop by much even during low tide.

This was not because of siltation of the river causing the tide level to be high as alleged, he pointed out.

He said it was because Bakun Dam was releasing water and it coincided with heavy rainfall for that period, as data from DID Office indicated.

Now that Bakun is not releasing water and the weather is dry, the water level has gone back to normal and water from upper river reaches of Rajang continues to flow pass Sibu without causing flooding even though the issue of siltation is still there, he continued.

He said dredging does play a role in certain parts of Sibu where the water is stagnated due to drain blockage or river mouth being silted.

He said Rajang Port Authority used to carry out regular dredging  work at the mouth of Seduan River at Sg Merah.

“There was a jetty for petrol vessels. Situated next to that jetty was an oil depot which vessels berthed and petroleum was delivered. This jetty has been abandoned more than 10 years ago after the depot moved to Tg Manis.

“Since the closure of that oil depot at Sg Merah, no dredging work at the river mouth has been done. Yet the water along Seduan River still finds its way out to Batang Igan without being the cause of flooding for the low-lying areas along the banks of the River.

“There is nothing personal in my speaking on flooding in Sibu as it is an issue of concern for everyone who lives in Sibu like me.

“Discussing issues that concerns the public is to be encouraged so long as we  use facts and reasons to convince.

“What the State government is doing by funding the Phase 4 of the Project is for the good of the people of Sibu.

“We should welcome it, although the federal government should be the one funding it. Regardless, there is still the Phase 5 involving 3 pump stations and 3.5 km of bunds,” Lau said.

He said he would endeavour  to push for this project to take off under federal budget.

In addition, a similar project should also be implemented for the West  bank of Sibu stretching from Igan Bridge to Lebaan Bridge. This will alleviate flooding problem there, Lau added.