Sarawak River Barrage Shiplock To Close During Bad Weather


December 07, 2007 18:47 PM

Sarawak River Barrage Shiplock To Close During Bad Weather

KUCHING, Dec 7 (Bernama) – Ship operators using the Sarawak River Barrage here are reminded to be prepared for immediate closure of the shiplock if the situation warrants it to minimise floods during the current wet spell, Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) chairman Dr Stephen Rundi said today.

He said the SRB had drawn up operation strategies as part of the preparations for heavy rain, which might cause flooding in Kuching city and its surrounding areas, including closing the barrage and shiplock gates to prevent sea water flowing inward upriver and causing water level to rise.

“Timber industries operating upstream are advised to keep their stocks in case the shiplock is closed as vessels will not be allowed to pass through the barrage temporarily at such times,” he told reporters at a press conference here.

Effective Dec 15, 2007, the water level upstream will be maintained at 7.5 metres and be further reduced to the lowest level permissible when the rainfall gets heavier to create sufficient reservoir in lower Sungai Sarawak to hold incoming water from catchment areas before flushing out during downtide.

“Due to the lowering of the water level, the river bank will be exposed, wharves and jetties overhang and boats in danger of capsize,” Rundi said.

He said boat operators and related industries must take extra precautions while people living along the river bank needed to be alert of any changes in its structure to avoid any accident.

Rundi said 18 telemetry stations along Sungai Sarawak were currently equipped with an early flood warning system which would be activated to warn residents to evacuate to higher grounds in case of floods occurring.

He said SRB would intensify its enforcement on riverine safety along all the major rivers in Sarawak, including Sungai Sarawak, Batang Rajang and Sungai Baram, to ensure that passenger boats are operating with permits and not overloaded.

This year, 45 errant boat operators and owners in Sarawak had so far been compounded a total of RM18,750 for various offences under the Sarawak Rivers Board Ordinance, he added.

On the salvaging of shipwrecks, Rundi said 171 shipwrecks in various rivers had been salvaged at a cost of RM5.843 million this year with another 319 yet to be salvaged.

Due to lack of funds, the salvaging operation would be undertaken in stages with the more risky shipwrecks being given priority, he said.