KOTA KINABALU: Tired of the frequent flooding in Penampang, former lawmaker Jennifer Lasimbang has started a petition calling for speedy and effective action to mitigate the problem faced by thousands of families in the district.
Lasimbang, who served as Moyog assemblyman from 2018 to 2020, said it is hoped that the petition, started on Tuesday (Oct 12) via Change.org, will get the authorities to start river widening and sand dredging works immediately.
It is also intended to be a wake-up call to the residents themselves to be more mindful of environmental protection.
“My house has been flooded countless times, and we’ve been cleaning up repeatedly, especially in the last couple of months,” Lasimbang said when contacted.
She said this cannot go on as the residents' suffering seems to be never-ending.
“That is why I hope by starting this petition, getting people to sign and be more aware of what’s happening, we can start to make a difference from our own homes,” Lasimbang said.
She hopes to get at least 5,000 signatures by Friday (Oct 15) so that she can proceed with the paperwork to get the authorities moving.
It was also high time the authorities worked with the villagers on immediate solutions without giving excuses like time and financial constraints, she said.
“All this while we have been reduced to reacting only after a disaster but now, it’s time to be more proactive. We need to see what we can do to mitigate the problem,” she said.
In the petition, Lasimbang states that the undersigned support the call for an immediate plan and action to dredge and deepen all rivers in Penampang district.
She said the lower Moyog River and its tributaries are heavily silted, contributing to the occurrence of flash floods.
Lasimbang said this was the direct consequence of extensive land clearing for housing, large-scale plantations, industry and highways and the subsequent severe erosion caused by heavy rains.
“We are also appealing for strong and smart partnerships to create win-win solutions with the community and other stakeholders (such as corporate citizens) accepting our share of the responsibility,” she said.
She suggested that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) help out as well.
She said the people in the district, as well as other flood-prone areas in the state, have suffered tremendous losses in terms of household property and business, not to mention the mental anguish of going through repeated flooding.
“We want immediate action from all relevant government departments and agencies," Lasimbang said.
Sabah’s west coast areas, especially Penampang, have been hit by severe flooding four times since September.
The number of minor flash floods was even higher, although these were not recorded.