The persistent flooding issue in Sibu. (Photo: Tiong’s Facebook page)

FLOOD WOES IN SIBU

KUCHING: Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has once again called for the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to conduct urgent riverbed studies.

These are meant to fully understand the severity of congestion at the Rajang and Igan rivers in efforts to effectively resolve the flooding problem plaguing Sibu.

He said that the major floods in Sibu were causing severe misery to the residents there as the river level rose and fell rapidly, inundating the streets.

“Before and after photos in the media depicting the current situation are proofs enough that the riverbeds of the Rajang and Igan rivers have become congested to the point of being unable to properly discharge their waters,” he said in a Facebook post today.

He said it had also been observed that the floods in the urban areas of Sibu could not be solved merely by building dams and pumping stations, emphasising that understanding the severity of the rivers’ blockage and to take the siltation into account were most important.

“We need to explore conclusively how to effectively solve this problem. If we do not discuss these factors in detail and proceed to build pumping stations and dams without foresight, we will not be able to bring a long-term solution,” he said.

“Without resolving the underlying factors that lead to flooding in the urban areas from the rivers’ estuaries, how will the waters be discharged effectively?,” questioned Tiong, who is also Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president.

He said that even before water from the dam had completely discharged into the sea, several episodes of heavy rain had befallen. This, he explained, had resulted in the river being unable to cope with the sheer volume of water from the dam water and rain combined, thus leading to the situation faced today.

“Just like the road that needs to be spacious enough to accommodate higher traffic volume, the river must be dredged too to avoid congestion,” he opined.

He said the vegetable growers in Sibu were particularly vulnerable and exposed, with the hard work of more than 200 farmers wiped out time and again.

“Every time the crops are about to be harvested, their produce is abolished in a flash, bringing intense despair. These farmers have told me that every time they see a downpour, their first reaction is to feel fear and pray for divine mercy,” he said.

According to Tiong, the widespread floods also threatened students, with the safety and security of children playing in the floodwaters a daily concern for families.

“We need immediate effective countermeasures to solve the flooding problem that has plagued us for so many years,” he stressed.