First surau to be built with kenaf

Wee (third from left), Tan (left), Kukup assemblyman Datuk Jefridin Atan (second from right) and surau committee members looking at the damaged floor boards of the Kampung Melayu Bukit Panjang surau in Pekan Nanas, Pontian.

JOHOR will soon have its first surau made from nature-friendly kenaf building system (KBS) in Pontian.

Kenaf is a plant that is grown typically for food and fibre.

Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng said a RM370,000 surau building project would be carried out soon to replace a 40-year-old structure in Kampung Melayu Bukit Panjang in Pekan Nanas.

“The planning for the new surau started last year as the old wooden one on stilts was creaky and parts of it were damaged by termites, making it unsafe for congregational activities.

“We decided to use KBS as it is more cost effective and faster to build with,” said Wee, who is also Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, after the groundbreaking ceremony.

He said the contractor estimated the project to be completed in six to nine months.

“It is cheaper to use KBS as the plant-based material costs around RM130 per sq ft compared to concrete, which costs around RM170 per sq ft, and wood, which is much higher.

“The new surau will be able to accommodate 100 people and it will be the first in Johor, and I think in the country too, to be built using kenaf,” he added.

Wee said his ministry was willing to assist and had been encouraging the construction sector to utilise KBS in projects because the plant could be made into bricks as well as other building materials.

“The kenaf plant, scientifically known as hibiscus cannabinus, grows quite fast, so it can be harvested in four months and this can help speed up the construction.

“Using KBS is more environmentally friendly. It also cuts down labour hours and logistics costs,” he said, adding that the plant could be used to produce fertiliser and animal feed too.

The project, he said, would be overseen by the newly elected representative for Pekan Nanas, Tan Eng Meng, who as Wee’s MP service centre supervisor, helped the residents to highlight the need for a surau to replace the old one.

Wee also thanked the agencies under his ministry, the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board and the Malaysian Timber Industry Board for lending their technical expertise to help with the project’s implementation.

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