Proactive measures needed to combat ongoing problem of flash floods in Sabah, says NGO


-Bernama filepic

KOTA KINABALU: More proactive measures need to be taken to address ongoing issues contributing to flash floods in various parts of Sabah, says the National Consumer Foundation.

Its Sabah chairman David Chan said from the recent floods in the state, poor maintenance of drainage systems had been identified as one of the key factors leading to the havoc.

He said this matter has been raised many times, and consumers continue to be disappointed with the seemingly worsening flash flood situation.

He believes the most recent incident in Penampang and other districts including Tuaran, Menggatal, Tamparuli and Putatan was exacerbated by clogged drainage systems and continued downpours.

“The floods on June 30 resulted in significant disruption, including submerged vehicles, damaged homes, and displacement of residents,” Chan said.

“Poor maintenance of drainage systems has been identified as a key issue, with blockages preventing proper water flow and causing overflow onto roads and residential areas,” he said.

He suggested some initiatives to address these issues including emergency responses by fire and rescue and civil defense teams, discussions on the need for improved drainage infrastructure and more proactive maintenance.

During a state assembly sitting on Wednesday (July 10), state Works Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya said that poor drainage systems and overflow of water at various outlets were among the main reasons behind the floods.

He disagreed with opinions that the floods were caused by the ongoing Pan Borneo Highway projects based on facts and historical records that floods like these occurred as early as 2009.

He said based on site supervision assessments, major flooding incidents mostly occurred due to overflow at the sole outlets in Kg Ketiau, Kg Duvanson, Jalan Penampang-Tambunan, Kg Kolopis, and Kg Kitobu, causing backflow into existing drains.

Shahelmey said earthwork by landowners outside the Pan Borneo project boundaries had disrupted water outflow as these earthworks lacked proper drainage systems.

In noting that the Pan Borneo teams operate strictly within the project boundaries, the Tanjung Keramat assemblyman urged the authorities to take action against those who do otherwise.

He said the state Works Department took flood precaution measures and mitigations seriously, with measures in place to prevent floods that could affect the Pan Borneo’s main alignment.

Shahelmey said proper planning and approvals including from the Environmental Protection Department for the Environmental Impact Assessment, and flood simulations presented to the Sabah Irrigation and Drainage Department were done accordingly.

He was responding to Datuk Darell Leiking’s (Moyog-Warisan) query on whether shoddy work of contractors involved in the Pan Borneo Highway project was among the reasons behind floods in Penampang.

Leiking had produced printed satellite images which he claimed were trees cut down at the project area, affecting water levels in nearby rivers.

He said he did not see any flood mitigation measures taken by contractors, accused contractors of leaving steel beams in the river in Kiranau, and questioned alleged unresolved land acquisition issues in certain Pan Borneo project areas.

He also wanted to know why no armed forces were deployed to help the thousands of affected families whose houses and properties were damaged by floods, when in Peninsular Malaysia, the federal government activated Op Murni, with over 18,000 soldiers on stand-by for floods.

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