Deputy CM: Sarawak on full alert for transboundary haze

Motorists pass on a highway shrouded by haze in Malaysia's southern state of Johor October 7, 2015. — Reuters pic
Motorists pass on a highway shrouded by haze in Malaysia's southern state of Johor October 7, 2015. — Reuters pic

MIRI, Aug 3 — Sarawak will start preparing for a possible transboundary haze episode that is expected to hit certain towns due to the ongoing forest fires in a neighbouring country.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said the State Disaster Management Committee will be holding a meeting next week to discuss haze-related problems as well as necessary precautionary measures to be taken.

“In the meeting we will have the latest updates on the haze situation and at the same time I have instructed relevant agencies to be ready,” he told reporters after presenting a RM1 million cheque to the Miri Indian Association (MIA) president Karambir Singh here today.

Uggah, who is also chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee said with the ongoing hot and dry season in Sarawak, all agencies must be on full alert for possible causes that could contribute to the haze problem.

On August 2, Meteorological Department Director General Jailan Simon was quoted by Bernama as saying that the west coast of Peninsula and western Sarawak has begun to experience the haze  due to forest fires in six provinces in Indonesia.

Jailan said the haze will have an effect on the weather in Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Putrajaya in Peninsula while in Sarawak it is expected to hit Kuching, Serian and Samarahan.

On the cheque presentation today, Uggah said the RM1 million was for the construction of the Indian Multi-Faith Community Centre here.

He said the overall cost of the centre was RM1.5 million and construction was expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

In a related development, Miri Fire and Rescue chief Law Poh Kiong said bush fires from open burning are being reported here again, with the latest blaze threatening 150 hectares of forest in Kuala Baram today.

Efforts to put it out began at 9am today but had to be stopped at 4pm, and will resume tomorrow, he said.

Bush fires, normally triggered by peat soil fires, is a common hazard in Miri, and in 2016 was the cause of a major haze episode that blanketed the city. — Bernama

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