KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is expected to discuss issues relating to floods, Covid-19 and future plans for the state in next week’s assembly sitting, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
The Deputy Chief Minister said he hopes to have a fruitful session with leaders during the sitting which is scheduled from Sept 21 to 23.
He said this after visiting flood victims in Kg Tampasak, Sugud of Penampang on Sunday (Sept 19).
During the visit, Jeffrey announced that the flood mitigation project for Sugud, which was supposed to start next year, would be commenced as soon as possible following the Sept 15 floods and landslides.
“The situation is very bad because this is the first time the volume of water or rain is exceptionally high, and because of that, the damage is also extraordinarily extensive,” he said.
The first thing that the government needs to do is to take care of the people’s welfare, he said.
Kitigan said the presence of representatives from the various government agencies is to see how they can help the people and at the same time, come up with solutions to ensure that such devastation does not recur.
“The immediate solution is to make sure that there is more drainage capacity and to widen the river, but of course, this is not a 100% solution to the problem faced amid climate change among other factors,” he said.
That is why the RM9mil flood mitigation project scheduled for next year, has been brought forward, he said.
Although RM9mil is not enough, the state government has no choice but to start with whatever it can now, Kitingan added.
He said contractors have already been appointed and their works, which includes river widening, would start once all arrangements and procedures were met.
To ensure a more feasible solution ahead, he said enabling factors such as more funds were also needed.
Constraints such as relocating the river bank villagers among other issues will have to be settled amicably as soon as possible, Kitingan added.
There is an estimated population of over 3,000 people in Sugud itself, not counting children.
Other villages also badly affected by the disaster include Kg Maang, Kg Madsiang and Kg Kodou.
A landslide victim in Kg Maang, who is now taking shelter at a cousin’s house, recalled seeing flood water gushing into her house where she lives with her parents, siblings and daughter on Sept 15.
“We managed to escape through the window as soon as we saw strong currents from the hill gushing into our kitchen,” said 31-year-old Hazel Pun Yin.
She said their neighbour’s house had an even worse fate.
“Luckily they too had managed to run to safety before the house collapsed and fell with the landslide,” said the mother of one.
Thanking God for sparing their lives, Hazel said their headache now is cleaning up and just starting over.
“We don’t know how to but we are taking things one step at a time, starting from just trying to clean our house, to deciding on how we are going to rebuild our home,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to her cousins and other sisters not affected by the landslide who let them stay at their places for the time being, as well as some of those few who provided contributions.