Sultan tours flood-hit areas
By Azaraimy HH & Hj Minor Absah

Concerned by the suffering his subjects are undergoing due to nature's wrath, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday braved floodwaters to make an unscheduled visit to rural areas affected by the continuous downpour, especially the flood-prone areas in Tutong and Belait Districts.

His Majesty's tour of the affected areas showed how the Sultan holds the welfare of his subjects close to his heart. The royal visit also helped to elevate the spirit of those who are currently facing difficulties due to the flood.

The number of houses affected by the floods in the Tutong District totalled 317. From the information board at the Incident Command Post (ICP) in Lamunin in Kg Rambai, the number of houses affected was 74 houses in Kg Benutan, 44 in Kg Layong, 18 in Kg Ukong, 12 in Kg Melaboi, 44 in Kg Lubok Pulau and 67 in Kg Penapar.

The rain has been pouring non-stop lately, and according to the information board, flood-prone areas in Tutong have shown an increase in water level.

This has made some areas impassable using normal vehicles.

The royal visit yesterday proved these difficulties, as some of the entourage's 4x4 vehicles encountered difficulties in continuing the journey and some also broke down.

His Majesty was accompanied by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman, his deputy Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi bin Hj Md Yusof and other high-ranking government officials.

His Majesty first visited the Incident Command Post (ICP) in Lamunin, where the monarch was briefed on the current situation. He then toured the affected areas including Jalan Bengkuru (Mukim Rambai) and Kg Benutan, where the water level was around 1.60 metres.

His Majesty also visited the flood-affected areas in Kg Penapar and Jalan Tanjong Maya.

His Majesty drove a 4x4 vehicle while a convoy of more than eight cars followed behind. Halfway through Jalan Tanjong Maya, His Majesty boarded an airboat of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and toured some of the affected houses.

His Majesty also got down to speak with the residents of Kg Panapar, visited a primary school that was temporarily closed and also managed to visit part of the overflowing river on board the airboat.

In some of the worst-hit areas, for example in Jalan Bengkuru in Mukim Rambai, the water level was a metre high on January 15, rose to 1.4 metres on Jan 16, 1.5 metres on January 17, 1.60 metres on January 18, and 1.60 metres on January 19.

In Kg Benutan, in Mukim Rambai, the water rose from 0.85 metre on January 15 to a metre on January 16, 1.1 metres on January 17, 1.20 metres on January 18, and 1.10 metres on January 19.

Some other areas also showed an increase in water level.

However, according to the commanding official at the ICP in Lamunin, the water level has receded in some parts. But more relief still depends on the weather.

Yesterday, school students in Kg Layong were asked to leave the school due to the situation. He said, some residents continue to receive food rations.

In terms of transportation, some residents that are experiencing difficulties have been provided with assistance. In Kg Benutan, Tutong District Office, Fire and Rescue and Tutong police have provided boats, in Spg 4 Jln Panchong, JDT, JKR and ABDB have provided trucks for for transportation, in Jln Kecil Layong, ABDB has provided boats, in Kg Lubok Pulau/ Kg Tanjong Maya, JDT has provided a truck, and in Sungai Damit, JDT has provided a truck. - Borneo Bulletin (20th January 2011)