JOHOR BARU: The government should take some drastic measures including a possible land swap to relocate those affected by the floods to higher ground, says the Johor Ruler.
Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said floods were becoming a yearly problem and each time the same victims had to be relocated to flood relief centres.
“This is because of where they built their houses and the low-lying land areas that they live in.
“It is time for the government to take drastic measures such as initiating a land swap and moving them to safer areas,” he said in a special interview.
Sultan Ibrahim stressed that river reserve land should remain a reserve and people should not be allowed to build houses along it.
“The government can ‘contra’ the land and its value in these flood-prone areas. This means not giving five acres (2.02ha) if they have five acres (of existing land),” he said in explaining the proposed land swap.
He suggested the government subsidise the cost of labour to build new homes or help create new housing areas to relocate flood victims.
If a victim has six acres (2.42ha) of land but it was located next to the river, then there was no value to the land, the Ruler said.
“There are many things that could be worked out including giving victims a one-acre (0.4ha) plot, a 15% subsidy for a new house or talk to the banks to provide lower interest rates to them.
“I like solving problems, but if the people are reluctant to move, then it is going to be troublesome for the person annually.
“Anyway, it is the government’s responsibility to relocate people to flood relief centres when the need arises. Even I have been spending my own money to help flood victims in Johor,” he said.
Sultan Ibrahim said every 10 to 20 years, there is bound to be bad flooding similar to what happened in 2006, 2011 and now.
The latest Johor floods, which have been going on for more than three weeks, have affected more than 70,000 people in all 10 districts across the state.
“As you know, climate change is real and the water levels worldwide are rising. So it is time we took this issue seriously. It is sad that we have yet to do anything major to tackle this situation,” he said.