20.10.2010 : Foundation of houses not affected by low water level

River Bank as on 20.10.2010 ( Sibu)

SIBU: The low water level in the Rajang River following the impoundment of water in Bakun Hydroelectric Dam will not affect the foundation of houses in low-lying areas here.

Department of Irrigation and Drainage’s chief engineer Ting Sing Kwong said the situation had not come to such a critical stage.

“This is because of the tidal effect. Water from the seas comes up the river and fills the slack in our water level.”

On the concern that the water level at Tua Pek Kong Wharf here had become so low that the riverbed has become visible, Ting said it was because of the low tide.

“There is nothing to worry about. There have been instances when water level was lower than the one now during low tide.”

The residents in low-lying areas are worried that the low water level would adversely affect the foundation of their houses.

If the water level goes lower to expose the mangrove wood in the foundation, the wood would rot and the foundations would become unstable.

Houses in low-lying areas from Hua Kiew Road to Kapor Road were built three decades to half a century ago on mangrove wood foundations.

Ting said as long as there is water in monsoon drains, houses would still be stable.
“This means the water beneath the houses will keep the buildings intact.”

He said until today, there have been no instances of dry drains in the residential areas.
Records provided by Ting showed that the level has dropped only slightly.

On Oct 13, the water level was 0.30 metres above sea level during low tide and 1.43 meters during high tide.

On Oct 18, the level was 0.14 metres during low tide and 1.40 metres during high tide.
It was 1.45 metres yesterday when the tide was high

Kapit Disaster Management Committee on full alert

KAPIT: The Kapit Disaster Management Committee is now on full alert following the low level of the Rajang River and the current dry spell
On Tuesday, Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot chaired an emergency meeting attended by heads of government departments here.

“We’ve received all sorts of reports that have yet to be verified. Reports from below Belaga saying people can walk across the Rajang River and in upper Baleh,” said Dahim.

He explained that the low water level meant it was not possible to travel to the areas involved to verify the reports.

Kapit District Officer Simon Japut Tiok said the suspended express boat service between Pelagus and Belaga, due to the low river level, has adversely affected the mobility of the people, supply of school rations and medical supplies to the rural clinic.

“Our concern is the Nanga Merit sub-district. We’re very worried because we received reports the water is very smelly.

“As water transport has been suspended, we must look for alternative means of transport,” said Simon.

He added that a company has been requested to improve the access road from Pelagus to Nanga Merit as well as to construct an access road of around 3km to upper Pelagus to allow for the transportation of goods.

Another company has also been asked to help transport school rations.

Kapit Engineer Etin Langit @Abdul Malik Abdullah assured that the Kapit Water Treatment Plant was operating as usual.

“Even though there’s very low water at the water pump house opposite Seputin, there are six hoses and we can always connect the hoses to reach the water,” he said.

However, he still advised consumers to conserve water. At present, Kapit requires some 10 million litres of treated water a day. Kapit health officer Dr Ngian Hie Ung said the Health Department has put a helicopter on standby for medical evacuations, to assist rural folk who are unable to reach the nearest clinic where the river is impassable.

She also gave her assurance that there is sufficient medical supply for rural clinics and the Flying Doctor Service.

According to the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), the water level recorded at the Kapit waterfront on Oct 13 was 6.7 metres above sea level.

This dropped to 2.9 metres at 8am on Oct 18 and by 5pm it had dropped to 1.85 metres. The normal water level is eight metres above sea level.

The Meteorological Department records show that 0.4 millimetres of rain fell in Kapit on Oct 17.
Intermittent rain is forecast over 10 per cent of Kapit on Saturday (Oct 23).

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