At the same time, Public Works Department (JKR) said it was getting prepared for more landslides while the Maritime Department had already embarked on five rescue missions in the past week alone due to high waves from the approaching monsoon.
This year, Malaysia is expected to face a wetter monsoon due to the effects of La Nina.
And, of course, there is the Covid-19 pandemic.
The phrase “a perfect storm” has been over-used, but it is what Malaysian authorities are preparing to face.
The monsoon transition phase, which started on Sept 24 and is expected to last until early November, brings heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds in a short period of time.
Concurrently, the La Nina phenomenon in South-East Asia is also contributing to the bad weather currently sweeping across several areas in the country.
Meanwhile, from early November until March 2021, the north-east monsoon is expected to bring heavy rains that often cause major floods in the east-coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, as well as parts of Sarawak.
National Disaster Management Authority (Nadma) director-general Datuk Dr Aminuddin Hassim said in light of this, 5,422 temporary evacuation centres (PPS) under the Welfare Department had been prepared, with the capacity to house 1,554,713 victims.
As a preparation prior to the start of the north-east monsoon season, he said, the Welfare Department’s depots and stores at the state and district levels had replenished their stock.
“On Sept 28, a meeting chaired by Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions), discussed north-east monsoon preparations with the relevant agencies.
“As the coordinating agency, this meeting was held by Nadma to ensure the provision of human resources, assets, temporary evacuation centres, depots, forward bases and backup supplies are always at an optimal level so that the response throughout the north-east monsoon runs smoothly,” said Aminuddin.
He said that Nadma was keeping an eye on flood-prone states such as Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, which are usually affected in November and December.
Johor, Sabah and Sarawak would usually become flood hotspots in December and January, he said, adding that if the heavy monsoon rains occurred along with the high-tide phenomenon, flood risks would heighten.
Aminuddin noted that preparations for the wet season also had to be done amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that new standard operating procedure (SOP) had to be followed.
“We have set the SOP for victim management standards at the PPS, whereby victims and personnel will undergo temperature checks and if they are found to be symptomatic such as having a fever, flu or cough, they will be isolated and referred to the Health Ministry.
“Flood victims will also need to register using the MySejahtera app and all PPS will be disinfected from time to time.
“All PPS personnel will also need to ensure that there is control in movement, whereby group activities such as communal cooking are not allowed.
“Food should be served in individual packs and visitors are also not permitted at the PPS,” he said.
Space at the PPS would also be marked to ensure that physical distancing as recommended by the Health Ministry could be practised, added Aminuddin.
Allocations from the National Disaster Relief Fund have been channelled towards disaster management operations in the north-east monsoon season, he said.
A sum of RM50,000 was allocated for each state disaster management committee while RM20,000 was allocated for each district disaster management committee, Aminuddin added.
“Besides that, the Civil Defence Force will be allocated RM20,000 for each state to support the expenses of the state and district disaster management secretariat,” he said.
When contacted, JKR told The Star it was ready to face landslides.
“JKR will focus on hotspots along federal roads by conducting patrols, but at the same time, we will not be neglecting low-risk areas.
“Slope repair works will be carried out immediately to ensure that users can safely use the roads.
“To ensure that this can be achieved, JKR and the long-term slope maintenance contractors appointed by the government will be in standby mode this wet season,” it added.
In the event of a landslide, JKR said a traffic management plan would be provided at the affected location until repairs were completed, and alternative routes would be provided if the route was cut off.
Any public announcement on landslides would be put up on the official JKR and Cerun JKR Malaysia Twitter accounts, it said.
JKR admitted that among the challenges it faced with the Covid-19 pandemic was in ensuring that tools such as face masks, hand sanitisers and temperature scanners as well as other SOP requirements were met by all parties at project sites.
“Also among our challenges is that we have to ensure a reasonable duration, method and monitoring of a project while also taking into account the SOP and movement control order in force in certain areas,” it said.
However, as a government agency, it vowed to uphold the guidelines and policies outlined in order to combat the Covid-19 pandemic together with the rest of the nation.
“In line with the new normal, JKR representatives will be focusing on Covid-19 SOP compliance at construction sites, besides monitoring the physical works being done,” it added.
Finally, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said the current monsoon transition period had seen an increase in incidents occurring at sea, with one fisherman dead and another four missing within a week.
The MMEA embarked on five search and rescue missions from Monday until yesterday involving a total of 17 victims, said its director-general Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som.
Of this, 12 victims were rescued, one death was recorded involving an Indonesian in Penang, and four victims are still missing – three Indonesians and a Malaysian in Selangor.
“We would like to remind everyone wishing to carry out activities at sea to take precautions such as wearing a safety jacket, referring to the weather forecast report, and ensuring that the boat is in good condition.
“Besides that, the public can also bring a personal locator beacon (PLB) along with them to sea as well as adequate food supplies,” said Mohd Zubil.
He also reminded the public to inform their families of their destination and to avoid conducting activities in areas without adequate telecommunications coverage.
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