KOTA KINABALU: Proper planning is vital to overcome floods in Sabah's northern Kota Marudu district in facing unpredictable weather, says Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (pic).
"The weather is very unpredictable now which makes any flood mitigation planning more difficult. We cannot just depend on past data because the numbers may have changed," said the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs).
Speaking after visiting the temporary relief centre at SK Ranau in flood-hit Kota Marudu, he said statistics such as the number of flood victims, assistance and aid needed as well as losses vary every time.
"Given the current situation, we need more disaster relief tents, more than before. Imagine, one of the relief centres here houses 42 families.
"That is why we need to make proper planning, come up with an estimation of probable expenses due to damage on basic infrastructure, as well as on follow-up actions to clean-up the roads, drainage, and reinstate water and electricity supplies," said Ongkili, who is also the Kota Marudu MP.
He, however, added that it is a concerted effort by all, from the district office to all relevant agencies.
"We must share data and information, especially that affects the people, so good town planning and proper assistance can be extended to the affected group immediately.
"We cannot delay when it comes to dealing with someone's life. We must make sure that those who temporarily put up at relief centres have basic needs," he said.
As of today, Kota Marudu is one of the districts with the highest number of flood evacuees, with 2,682 people from 1,015 families being housed in 13 relief centres.
Ongkiili expressed surprise by how sudden the floods hit Kota Marudu after 200mm of rainfall was recorded in a day, causing the water levels of Sungai Kanarom and Sungai Bandau to rise beyond their danger levels.
"Principle of prevention better than cure also applies in flood mitigation control; we cannot afford to be stingy," he added.