Royal concern for flood victims
By James Kon

Concerned over the welfare of those affected by the floods, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday visited the Tutong District to take a closer look at affected areas.

The three-hour visit, which started at Lubok Pulau Primary School, saw His Majesty going to many of the flood-stricken areas. Throughout the visit, various government agencies came under the scrutiny of His Majesty, especially on their assistance given to the victims of the floods.

His Majesty, who arrived in the district by helicopter, also praised some of the relevant agencies for their efforts in providing assistance.

Meanwhile, in a briefing held after the visit, the planning and building of infrastructure in flood-prone areas came into question.

On Friday, the Tutong District Office recorded 205 houses affected by floods and landslides. The worst affected areas are Kg Tanjong Maya, Kg Penapar, Kg Ukong, Kg Lubok Pulau and Kg Layong.

His Majesty was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was welcomed by ministers and senior officials from the relevant ministries. Residents around the area were also present to greet His Majesty and eager to highlight their plight.

His Majesty's first stop was at Lubok Pulau primary school, which was also hit by the flood. His Majesty took a closer look at some of the damages that the school had suffered.

Concerned about the students' welfare, the caring monarch also spoke to some of the students.

Using a four-wheel drive vehicle, His Majesty and HRH Prince 'Abdul 'Azim drove past a heavily flooded road to reach the home of Haji Abd Wahab bin Apong, Penghulu Mukim of Tanjong Maya.

His Majesty later visited the operation room of "Ops Khimat Sepadu" located just beside the Tanjong Maya Mosque to get a better understanding of the affected areas in the vicinity.

This was followed by a visit to the temporary shelter centre located in the multipurpose hall of the Tanjong Maya Mosque where victims of the flood are staying. One of the victims in tears spoke to the monarch about her suffering.

His Majesty then moved on to the Cooperative 'Pertama' to look at the distribution of water bottles and packed meals to three flood-stricken villages namely Kg Penapar, Kg Tanjong Maya and Kg Lubok Pulau.

His Majesty toured the temporary shelter on the second floor of the cooperative where a flood victim, Awang Mahali, asked His Majesty to visit his home located at Spg 425 of Kampong Penapar/Tanjong Maya, which the ruler obliged.

Awang Mahali told the Borneo Bulletin that this was the worst flood he had experienced. His house was cut off from the main road, which was submerged by the floodwater.

He hoped that the relevant authorities could build a bridge to overcome the problem.

His Majesty then visited the house of Awang Haji Mahmud bin Haji Abd Latip, head of Kg Penapar, and took a closer look at the flooded roads in Jln Layong.

The house of the head of Kg Layong was His Majesty's next destination, followed by a visit to Lamunin Fire station where His Majesty visited the operation room.

The visit concluded after His Majesty heard a briefing at the Tutong District Office building.

Meanwhile, in the latest update received from the NDMC yesterday, water levels in some parts of the Tutong District were still high. The water level in Jalan Bang Pangan and Jalan Bengkuru was recorded at one metre high.

If the current weather continues, the water level is expected to recede in these areas.

Meanwhile, electrical supply to Kg Teraja, Kg Ukong and Kg Penapar has been fully restored on Monday, though three houses in Kg Sungai Damit are still without electricity after it was cut off due to landslide.

Food rations are being distributed by the Department of Community Development to affected houses. A total of 1,400 packed meals were distributed three times yesterday and 1,560 packed dinner meals were sent out in the evening.

The NDMC reminded the public that despite the weather being generally fine, precautionary measures should be taken as the risk of landslides is still considered high in some areas. - Borneo Bulletin (11th Feb 2009)