| Azlan Othman |
THE mega Temburong Bridge Project linking Bandar Seri Begawan and Pekan Bangar is 17 per cent complete and expected to be ready by the end of 2019, while the Sungai Kebun Bridge is 97 per cent done and expected to be fully completed around August this year.
This was said by YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin bin Abdullah, the Minister of Development, in his preamble at the seventh day of the 13th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.
The flyover project at the junction of Jalan Gadong/Jalan Telanai, meanwhile, is 90 per cent done and expected to be completed around April this year, while the Jalan Residency road widening project has reached 60 per cent completion and is expected to be tied up around April 2018.
The construction project of Seria By-Pass (Phase II) has reached 60 per cent completion and expected to be completed around October this year.
On the issue of the upgrade and repair of road infrastructure in the country, YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin said that due to the limited budget, priority is given to projects whose works are at a critical stage and those that provide immediate benefit to the people.
The minister added that the ministry will always strive to ensure the quality and safety of Brunei’s roads in accordance to international standards.
The upgrade of irrigation and sewerage facilities, maintenance of coastal areas and river banks, and the handling of flooding issues will remain the main focus of the ministry through the Drainage and Sewerage Department.
Through projects that have been conducted so far, the government has managed to reduce flood risk areas by 55 per cent, with a further reduction of flood risk areas from 343 sq km to 250 sq km being aimed, through projects proposed under the 11th National Development Plan (NDP).
In Brunei, flooding is mainly caused by heavy rain and unpredictable weather due to climate change, the simultaneous occurrence of rain together with the onset of high tide, and the lack of adequate drainage systems in the country’s low-lying areas, especially in areas of rapid development.
YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin elaborated that when flash floods struck several areas on March 2, 2017, the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department (BDMD) recorded a reading of as high as 256mm of rain, which was the highest monthly precipitation reading for March in 40 years.
Making things worse was the high tide which measured 2.1m at that time.
In short, climate change and a general rise in sea level, which resulted in coastal erosion and seawater spilling over inland, contributed to flooding in low-lying areas.
The entry of seawater onshore also causes siltation, which slows river waters flowing into the sea, causing flooding upstream (eg flood inundation in Tutong District floodplain area), according to YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin.
The minister also said that, in line the Drainage and Sewerage Department’s strategic plan to reduce flooding in flood-prone areas, several measures have been implemented through special projects, namely, the construction of retention ponds; upgrading of main drains, storm drains, outfall drains and
building concrete drains to improve the connectivity of drainage systems; deepening and expanding of rivers downstream; and conducting feasibility studies on the Brunei River and Tutong River for the construction of barrages in several strategic locations.
YB Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Bahrin added that studies to improve the drainage system in the Belait District have also been made. In addition, maintenance works – through private sector contractors – will also be considered to ensure that the functioning of the main drainage system (storm drain) is satisfactory.
Emphasis is also given to the monitoring and improvement of internal management controls and the development impacts of flooding issues.
The Drainage and Sewerage Department is also involved in the implementation of key national projects such as the Kampong Ayer Zone ‘A’ Revitalisation Project: Backfilling and Reclamation Works in the area from Kuala Sungai Kedayan to Edinburgh Bridge.
This project is 55 per cent complete and scheduled for total completion by mid-2018, upon which time the area will be open to local and foreign investors for further development through the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative.