I am on leave until the end of the month. I started last Wednesday but you wouldn't know it. I have been in the office as well as at the Legislative Council since then. I am really looking forward to really go on leave. I needed the break and I thought all the questions will be done by yesterday. However at 2.30 pm, my minister was still tied up at the palace. It was about 3+ when he came in. Luckily all the questions could be acommodated despite the fact that we had to go through 5 departments' budget including the biggest JKR.
The questions fielded were answerable apart from projects which are undertaken by BEDB. We realised BEDB did not have a spokesman in the council. Someone has to stand in for them one of these days.
Anyway, one question which would interest most people around the Ban areas is the one relating to projects to alleviate flooding. At the moment, huge drains or rather canals are being built but my Minister yesterday conceeded that those drains are insufficient in really heavy bouts of rain. What we needed to build is a retention pond similar to the one we built for the Berakas Perpindahan area. The heavy rainwater will be collected and kept at the retention pond and then released when the tide is low.
For the Ban areas including the Sungai Tampoi area, the Drainage Department of the PWD needed to build a series of ponds totalling more than a 100 acres in size. The water will be collected in these retention ponds and held back until the tide is low. Releasing the waters have to be done carefully otherwise it will be areas downriver such as Bebatik will be flooded instead. Funding has been requested and once that is secured, all the land that is needed to build the ponds will be acquired. Hopefully in the next 5 years, nobody will ever remember the Ban areas used to be flooded.
In fact, now that I am in MOD, it is only now I realised that we have been taking PWD for granted. I used to remember the Berakas areas and probably a few other areas used to be flooded. Over the years, projects have been done, rivers widened etc, that many areas are now no longer flooded. We tended to remember only the short term memories.
Areas such as the Tutong floodplain of course require more extensive solution rather than just retention ponds. The solution is being finalised at the moment.