Need to speed up breakwater project

MIRI: The worsening erosion along the beach at Kampung Batu 1 Kuala Baram has fishermen operating there urging the authorities to expedite the project to construct a breakwater to prevent further erosion.

Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who is overseeing the project at local level, said the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) had appointed consultants to draw up plans for the breakwater project.

“Once planning has been finalised and a tender called, construction will begin early next year and completed hopefully by the end of 2020,” he said at a follow-up meeting with relevant agencies.

The project to control coastal erosion received a funding of RM25mil, which was approved by the Federal Government at the beginning of this year.

Lee emphasised the need for the project to be expedited because coastal erosion has been a long-term problem faced by the fishermen and villagers of Kampung Batu 1.

“Furthermore, serious erosion occurred at the area last December because of flooding caused by incessant rain.

“Many traditional boats were damaged despite the presence of a stone wall, which was erected to overcome the problem,” he said.

Kampung Batu 1 representative Abdul Mutalip Jaluddin said the fishermen hope that the project would commence as soon as possible.

“Our community will be much more confident about operating in the area once the project starts,” he said.

Mutalip also touched on the issue of requiring proper road access to the new fish market in Kampung Batu 1.

“We are still operating at the old market as we are unable to transport our catch to the new one,” he said.

Lee said he would look into it and help the fishermen come up with a solution.

The project, once completed, was expected to turn Kampung Batu 1 into a tourist spot as the fishermen there want to maintain the practice of fishing with traditional boats.

There are currently 150 traditional boats in use by the fishermen, with the number expected to increase once the breakwater and a proper road leading to the new fish market is constructed.

Also present at the meeting were The Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Sarawak deputy director Wong Wen Ho, community leaders, fishermen and representatives from the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM), the Marine Department, Natural Resources and Department Board (NREB), Public Works Deparment (JKR), Land and Survey and Miri City Council.