Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shoddy work cause of Kuching flood, says ex-engineer

The flash flood that hit Kuching city early this morning was due to an antiquated drainage system creaking under the weight of a growing city, shoddy work by firms that had won contracts to fix the system and poor supervision by city engineers, according a former city engineer. The former engineer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the design-and-build contractor for the city's sewerage system should have "exercised his expertise and skill to implement the (contract) work properly". One of the engineering techniques that was being used, and which he believed contributed to the four-hour flooding, was the "tunnel jacking system". "They are many areas in Kuching for which the tunnel jacking system was used. "It is not suitable due to the nature of the ground condition which is soft and peaty with high ground water level. "In order to successfully jack the pipes through the ground, they had to pump a lot of ground water out. "In soft soil, when you pump the water out, the ground subsides to compress the voids left by the water. "When the ground subsides, roads and drains which are not supported on piles (will) also sink. "Now imagine what happened where you have drains which have sunk that are connected to outlets which did not sink. You will get constricted flow of water that results in flood." The drainage system in the older parts of Kuching city – Main Bazaar, India Street, Carpenter Street and the historical Padang Merdeka – are inherited from the rule of the Brookes. Coupled with their close proximity to the Sg Sarawak which overflowed this morning due to a 5.5m king tide and rainfall that was measured at 61.5mm at 8am, these and other low lying areas were flooded. Several major roads, like JalanTun Openg, Rock Road, Laksama Cheng Ho, Jalan Badruddin, Jaln Batu Lintang became impassable. There were reports of people missing their flights just because they took the "wrong road" to the Kuching international airport. Water reportedly entered the offices of the police's contingent headquarters at Jalan Badruddin. The Sarawak general hospital, 1km from the police headquarters, was also hit. Patients in wards on the ground floor and its pharmacy were moved to the first floor of the hospital. Flood monitors at the Fire and Rescue Department said rain began falling at around 3am, and between 6am and 10.30am, their phone had jangled with 17 calls from people reporting rising waters or calling for help to rescue motorists trapped in their stalled cars or requests for food. – February 27, 2016.]]>

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