KUCHING: The flash floods that continue to hit Sarawak has exemplified the need for a proper flood mitigation plan, said former Natural Resources and Environment minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Flood occurring due to heavy rains and aggravated by the king tide have been a long-standing issue especially in Sarawak’s coastal areas.
Wan Junaidi claimed that flood mitigation projects were to be implemented in the state with one in Kuching and the other in Sibu plus several medium-size projects for Miri and Bintulu.
“These projects were to be implemented in stages from 2014 to 2022,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.
He said that the Kuching and Sibu flood mitigation projects were projected to cost approximately RM8 billion and RM850 million respectively but were put on hold after GE14 in May 2018.
“I raised the issue in Dewan Rakyat and personally with the federal Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar and his answer was ‘semua projek di teruskan’ (all the projects will be continued).
“Now, nothing is really known about the Kuching and Sibu flood mitigation projects,” he lamented.
He recalled the last bad flood that affected Sarawak was in 2016 where, in the aftermath, he requested for funds approved in the 2016 federal Budget for flood mitigation projects in Kuching and Sibu,
“The RM250 million funding for Sibu had to be split whereby RM150 million was allocated to Kuching and RM100 million given to Sibu.
“This was agreed to by then Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem and approved by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the federal Cabinet in the latter part of 2016.
He said that after the flood of January 2016, a study was made by the state and federal DID with inputs from Dutch consultants.
“The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry (NRE) then decided to give priority to save Kuching from the stormwater first to which both Adenan and then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak agreed.
“Thus, the RM150 million was approved to address the stormwater and drainage problem in identified critical areas in Kuching.”
The Santubong MP said that both the Kuching and Sibu projects were supposed to take off in August and October of 2018. “Sibu was partly done and had shown tremendous positive impact on downtown Sibu especially in Lanang areas.”