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Saturday, December 31, 2016

KB Floods: Consequence of Systemic Neglect

KOTA KINABALU - “Looking beyond the Kota Belud flash floods a couple of days ago, it is obvious that Sabahans are now suffering the consequences of the years of systemic neglect and failing to properly fund and develop Sabah by the Federal government” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, commenting on the flash floods which flooded the town shops and town field, low-lying areas and causing massive traffic jams.

One may put it as due to the heavy rains from the tail-winds of typhoon “Nock Ten” that hit the Philippines but the lack of proper drainage and flood mitigation would be a huge contributing factor.

It was similar to the massive floods that inundated Donggongon town 2 years ago where the Sabah Drainage and Irrigation Department had proposed a RM200 million flood mitigation program which could have averted the heavy losses caused by the floods.  

However, the program was not carried out because the federal funding never came. The irony is that the Federal government spent RM1,18 billion for 2 projects in Kemaman, Terengganu and Kuantan, Pahang while the RM730 million 2016 federal budget for flood mitigation covered mostly flood mitigation in Malaya with little priority for Sabah. Apparently, the Federal Housing Ministry has another RM9 billion budget for flood mitigation in housing areas.

It is now reported that another RM400 million would be needed for a similar flood mitigation program in Putatan and part of Penampang.

Floods are merely one of the consequences, Sabahans are suffering due to the lack of federal funding.  There are numerous reports of lack of federal funding.

In 2014, the then DPM promised RM1.0 billion to repair about 600 dilapidated school buildings in Sabah and Sarawak. Sadly, to-date almost all the schools are still unrepaired due to non-funding by the Federal government.

It was previously reported by JKR Sabah that RM2.0 billion  was URGENTLY needed for backlog road repairs particularly hillslopes to prevent landslides and another RM700 million for repairs of some 62 bridges on federal roads excluding bridges on State roads. Apparently, only RM33 million was received for the bridge repairs.

The delay in building of the dual carriage Pan-Borneo Highway and the state of disrepair of roads and bridges are exacting a heavy toll on Sabah road-users where fatalities and serious injuries arising from accidents are frequent occurrences.

For KK-rians, the traffic jams in Kota Kinabalu is a daily nightmare.   More often than not, it takes more than 2 hours during the rush hours to reach home if on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu. The stretches from Likas to 1-Borneo/Bukit Sepanggar in Sulaman and Inanam to Manggatal town are even worse.  

Although 3 new flyovers are under construction with the Kolombong and Kolam ones partially opened to traffic, it merely transfers the traffic jams from Inanam/Kolombong to Lintas and Lido junctions one way and Manggatal in the other direction. This is due to the non-construction of other flyovers and interchanges that are badly needed to alleviate the traffic jams.

The other 8 flyovers and interchanges planned for the city are put on hold due to the lack of federal funding.   In the meantime, KK-rians will have to put up with the daily traffic crawl.

The list of lack of federal funding and the woes of Sabahans seems endless and we are not even talking about the lack of clean treated water and basic electricity for homes. Meantime, after 53 years of the promise of development, many Sabahans still have to rely on gravity-fed water from nearby hills or harvested rainwater and kerosene lamps or equivalent for lighting.

The issue is not of pointing fingers or finding fault but to highlight the marginalization and neglect of Sabah by the federal government so that solutions and much needed funding are given to the Sabah government.

The marginalization and neglect is more acute and inexcusable considering that Sabah now produces about 50% of Malaysia’s crude oil production giving Petronas about RM18.715 billion annually.  This will increase to about 65% when the new Malikai platform starts production this month with some 193,000 barrels per day worth RM16.66 billion annually.

Perhaps, the Chief Minister need to whisper louder to PM Najib to bring another RM5 billion on his next visit to Sabah to meet Sabah’s needs and alleviate the sufferings of Sabahans. If not, then it is only understandable for Sabahans to want to change the Federal and Sabah governments in the next general elections.

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