Disclose cost of fighting forest fires


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  • Thursday, 29 Aug 2019

Forest fires raging in Kuala Baram district. – Filepic

THE Sarawak state authorities must tell the public how much money has been spent on fighting forest fires in Miri and Kuala Baram districts since Aug 1.

The task involves daily deployment of dozens of firefighters, usage of heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.

A Bombardier aeroplane had to be flown in from Subang for about two weeks for daily aerial water bombings here.

Helicopters had to be deployed, along with drones for aerial surveys plus dozens of excavators, big mining pumps and rolls of water-jets and hoses.

I am sure these involve a lot of money.

I am told that hiring a helicopter could cost about RM4,000 per hour.

The central agency handling the forest fires is the Sarawak Disaster Relief Management Committee.

The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department and Civil Defence Unit are the main ground agencies.

I am sure all of them can calculate the expenses they have incurred since Aug 1.

Earlier this year, during the April to June period, Miri and Kuala Baram were hit by similar forest fires too.

Actually, we have been facing similar woes every year.

I have been working in Miri since 1996 and this is something I am very familiar with.

I hope the state authorities will provide details of the financial expenses incurred in this latest episode as it involves taxpayers’ money.

In the meantime, nature lovers here want details on the animals affected by the devastating forest fires throughout Kuala Baram district over the past 26 days.

There could be extensive impact to the flora and fauna due to these fires that ravaged about 1,500ha, said members of the Malaysian Nature Society.

The society members said the population of wildlife in these forested areas that burned down have been badly affected.

One member said the animals that suffered the most are snakes, tortoises, monkeys, birds and squirrels.

Humans aren’t not the only ones suffering due to the wildfires.

While people are affected by the air pollution, the animals are losing their habitats and also their lives due to the fires.

They are also encroaching into human settlements in their bid to escape the wildfires.

In Miri, firefighters have to help rescue these wildlife as well as capture them if they enter into residential areas.

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