KOTA KINABALU, Sept 22 — The construction of the multi-billion ringgit Pan Borneo highway may have contributed to the worsening flash floods across Sabah, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said today.
The state works minister admitted that poor construction of the road that runs through many regions of the state — including the flood-prone west coast areas — could have been one of several causes of the constant floods.
“I cannot deny that the Pan Borneo may be a contributor to the floods by clogging up our drainages. One of the causes is construction or development,” he said in the Sabah Assembly.
Bung also blamed clogged waterways for the floods. He said the build-up of rubbish in the waterways was from litter thrown by the public, which he attributed to lack of civic awareness.
Another factor for the floods that he gave was the increase in population and housing projects in and around the city that did not follow development plans.
He said this caused the drains to overflow even after just three to four hours of rain.
Bung was replying Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Junz Wong who asked if inefficient construction of the Pan Borneo highway — a highway intended to connect the island of Borneo — was causing more floods, as found to be the case in several villages in Sabah at least.
Bung, who is also Lamag assemblyman, said he is chairing a special panel set up to review and study the causes of the flash floods tomorrow.
He added that the panel will solve any flood causing problems “even if it rains for a whole year”.
Sabah is currently dealing with the aftermath of flash floods which have wreaked havoc across several districts, most notably Penampang, a suburban area which suffered major floods from several hours of rain last week, and again two days ago.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said that flood mitigation packages were ongoing, and two out of three had been completed.
However, Bung said that so far, no contractor or concessionaire had been held accountable or issued summons or non compliance notices in relation to the floods.
“The Works Department, concessionaires and contractors appointed are always ensuring that the drainage system in their areas go through routine inspections to ensure they are functioning well and not clogged.
“Additional works and cleanups are also done when requested by the local leaders or residents. We have also asked them to increase the frequency of their clean ups and inspection,” he said.
He said that the Drainage and Irrigation Department was tasked with ensuring that roads were designed to withstand surface runoffs that should flow into the monsoon drains.