KUCHING: A public briefing and dialogue session on fire hazards and solutions will be conducted by the authorities and shopkeepers and business owners within the old city area.
The public event entitled “History Repeats Itself — Cause and Effect of Fire in the Historical Precinct of Old Kuching City” will be held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here on Oct 12 at 7pm.
According to organising chairman Datuk Wee Hong Seng, the session would be the first of its kind being organised by all associations within the old city area.
He added that it was high time that such a session be held because many shop owners still did not know what to do in the event that their premises caught fire, as well as measures to prevent such occurrence.
“We invite everybody including members of the media, to come to the session. Although seats are limited to 250 people on a first-come, first-seat basis, we welcome others to the event as long as they do not mind standing.
“Your precious views, suggestions and opinions will be much appreciated in order to protect our long-term interest and safety in this area,” he said at a press conference near India Street here yesterday.
Wee, who is also India Street Pedestrian Mall Committee chairman, highlighted the big Gambier Street fire on Dec 22, 2009 which destroyed six shop lots and incurred an estimated loss of between RM10mil and RM12mil.
“Since that Gambier Street fire, four to five more similar cases have occurred within the old Kuching City.
“We need to know how losses due to fires affect their (shop owners) livelihood as well as their views and opinions on how to make things better. From the session, we as members of the organising committee would collect and compile all input to be forwarded to the authorities.
“We want to share with them what they should do to reduce the risk of fire and also — touch-wood — what should be done after such tragedy because they would not only have to deal with the authorities but also human factors,” he stressed.
The public briefing and dialogue session is jointly organised by Malaysian Institute of Architects-Sarawak Chapter, Sarawak Heritage Society, India Street Pedestrian Mall Committee, Kuching City Centre Community Association and Old Market Community Association.
“We also invited government agencies and corporations to join us namely the State Planning Authority, Kuching City North Commission, Kuching City South Council, Resident’s Office, Fire and Rescue Department, Sesco Bhd, Museum Department, Land Consolidation and Development Authority, Land and Survey Department and State Secretary Department,” Wee pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Old Market Association vice-president Pemanca Ko Wai Neng said there were about 600 shophouses operating within the Old Kuching City area.
“From the Kuching City Mosque to the Sarawak Tourism Complex, about 300 premises are under the Kuching City Centre Community Association, while another 300 shophouses located along the route from the Tourism Complex to the Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple near Wayang Street are under the Old Market Commu-nity Association,” he explained.