KUCHING: Flood mitigation works for the state capital is so huge that land acquisition alone could cost upwards of RM100mil, according to the state’s Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID).
Its director Wong Siu Hieng said work on a massive 11km bund, which prevents water from entering city limits, has entered the technical designing and land acquisition stage.
“The department is this year allocated RM80mil. That amount will be used primarily for the two processes,” Wong told reporters, following a briefing the department held for council personnel here yesterday.
“The state Land and Survey Department estimates that land acquisition would cost RM92mil. Certain areas of the land (to alienate) have not been finalised.
“So we will be acquiring land this year, while also conducting physical tests, because computer modelling isn’t detailed enough.
“This is (the start of) what is called a mega project, which could cost RM2bil.”
Planners are situating the bund north of Kuching. It is essentially a long embankment that prevents water from entering.
Although Wong did not say when the bund would begin building, it is understood that it would be one of the key components that would better prepare Kuching to face sudden and prolonged heavy downpours.
The bund would complement the flood diversion channel that is already in the building process, along with infrastructure like the barrage, which was built about a decade ago.
Wong said the department was planning a series of flood prevention measures.
“Some are minor, like building more drains and building them better while others involve costlier building and maintenance like installing pumps to flush out excess water.”
He also told the briefing that development was inevitably making flood prevention more difficult. For example, Wong said rivers in developing areas tended to begin noticeably wider but shallower within just a decade.
“When you have riverbanks that are eroding, that tends to cause siltation along the base. There are a lot of other factors. For instance, with rising sea levels, it also means that water is flowing out slower.”
For the period of 2011-2012, the Federal Government approved RM350mil for flood prevention purposes for Sarawak. Wong said the state government had also provided about RM20mil in funds to solve flood problems in targeted areas.
The drainage expert also said that problems faced in Sarawak were not unique.
He said highly irregular weather patterns were being observed globally, from the US to Thailand.
“By right, by this time of the year, it should not be raining this much here. This is a global abnormality.”