MIRI: Many schools in Sarawak that cater to rural students and boarders have been found to be lacking in fire-safety aspects.
Local politicians are calling for urgent checks, especially on wiring, to be carried out in all primary and secondary schools throughout Sarawak.
Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin said the state government and the Education Ministry must work together on the matter.
“The tragic death of 25-year-old teacher Catherine Janet Tiwi in the teachers quarters at SK Batu Bungan in Mulu last Thursday showed that many of the wooden buildings are fire-risks.
“Most rural schools in Sarawak are facing similar safety woes. The state government and Education Ministry must carry out immediate safety audits.
“Get the Fire and Rescue Department and Department of Safety and Health (Niosh) to conduct on-the-spot inspections,” he said.
Julau MP Larry Sng said checks of all important safety aspects of the buildings must be carried out, adding that he had raised such concerns before.
“Safety facilities such are fire escapes, safety switches, fire-proof wiring, hydrants and extinguishers must be put in place.
Sng said the most common found in rural schools is unsafe wiring and blocked fire-escape routes and stariways.
He said many of the schools also do not have fire alarms.
The lack of safety features endangers the lives of people in the event of fires, he stressed, adding that Sarawak has at least 500 primary and secondary schools that are in needed of urgent repairs.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching visited SK Batu Bungan on Saturday and said she will forward a proposal to the ministry to channel funds immediately to SK Batu Bungan Parents-Teachers Association to carry out repairs of the building destroyed in the fire.
She said her ministry is looking into the safety issues of all schools in Sarawak.
“Our ministry is concerned about these issues in schools.
“The tragic fire that caused the death of Catherine must not occur again in our schools,” she said.
Teo said the ministry needs to work out the budget required to repair all schools in the state and country.