Managing Disasters (Again)

Sometime last night, someone opened up this blogsite thus marking the 500,000th time that this site was accessed. Previously I would have marked that as a special occasion. In today's time half a million visitors do not seem like much. But I would like to thank all readers for coming back and reading my blog.

By the way my computer was knocked out last night. There was a thunderstorm immediately above our area - you can tell how far the storm is by timing the lightning and thunder. Last night both occured together. The power to the house was tripped and when I tried switching on my desktop computer, the hard disk refused to spin. I am now relying on my laptop and for once I am thankful I signed up for OMNI with TelBru (OMNI is the expanded espeed - espeed modem combined with a mobile modem).

Today I am not talking about numbers but I am very thankful that my family is safe. I do not live on a slope nor on floodprone areas even though the area I live in is prone to landslides. Exactly two years ago, give or take a few days, I wrote about managing disaster in Brunei. You can link to it here. I was in particular referring to the land slides at Tasek Meradun, Jalan Tutong. Jalan Tutong closed for a few days at that point forcing many of us who relied on it going to Bandar either via Jalan Gadong or sometimes even all the way via Jalan Jerudong to reach Bandar. Last night there were a number of messages on my phone from various officers at MOD and PWD informing me about the new slide. Today Jalan Tutong is again closed but I take comfort knowing that the people at National Disaster Management Centre and Public Works Department will be taking care of this disaster.

It is almost impossible to prevent landslides especially around the ridges given the amount of rain that we have over the last few weeks. Ridges are nice places to build houses - overlooking down on other people. But if the contractors are not aware and did not take precaution of potential disasters, anything can happen. My father and I learned it the hard way a number of years ago when we underestimated the amount of water flowing passed a house my father owned somewhere in Jalan Subok. During normal days, the water was flowing like a small brook. During rainy season, that tiny little brook became a raging torrent. It tore down the house's retaining walls. You can bet the next retaining wall we built was built like a fort. We were lucky that we managed to stem the flow to save the house.

Who can we blame? We can't blame PWD or even TCP for approving the house. Nobody could have forseen this and if anything, we the owners should be blamed. We took the risks.

Today that question is posed by many around the country facing this disaster. Who can they blame? Some can go back to the developers and contractors. Some are pure natural disasters. Some should have blamed themselves but didn't because they were the ones who weakened the slopes with their own illegal development. Some can blame other people because the others weakened the slopes with their illegal development. All eventually tried to blame the government because the government did not stop those illegal developments and the government should have taken care of those slopes regardless. There is a limit to what the government can do. Eventually we are the one who have to take care of our own properties. Nobody else will.


Z.M said…
My PC was knocked out too from last nite.. =(
Kasmirhan said…
akum fren. I thought of sharing a bit of an english legal perspective on your entry which I posted on my personal weblog :-)

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