Heavy thunderstorms, brought about by the Northeast Monsoon period that typically occurs in December and January, have caused flooding and travel disruptions in several low-lying remote areas of Tutong District.
According to the Tutong District Office, five villages in Tutong – Kampong Rambai, Ukong, Panchong, Kuala Ungar Bangkuru and Layong – have been affected by flooding for over a week, causing two landslides and 12 houses to be submerged in water.
Contingency plans, coordinated by the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) in collaboration with several government machineries, have been actively implemented to ensure the safety and welfare of the affected residents.
Senior officials from Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) yesterday visited the affected areas for a closer look and to obtain updates on the situation.
The delegation was led by Permanent Secretary (Safety, Welfare and Law) at the MoHA Mohammad Amir Hairil bin Haji Mahmud and Permanent Secretary (Municipal and District) at the MoHA Salminan bin Haji Burut.
Tutong District Officer Shamsul Bahrin bin Haji Mohd Hussain who is also the Chairman of the Tutong District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC), said in a briefing that continuous heavy rain on December 7 caused rising river levels to flood several roads and residential areas.
Seven access roads – Jalan Bangkuru, Jalan Keranching, Jalan Benutan, Jalan Kuala Ungar, Jalan Rambai, Jalan Bangpangan and Jalan Kecil Layong have been submerged for over a week, but water levels have receded in the past three days.
Of all the 12 houses submerged in water, the district officer said that most are no longer affected, due to the receding water levels.
He also highlighted measures taken by the Tutong DDMC in monitoring weather and water levels of the Tutong River, while also displaying warning signs in flood-prone areas: “Through the steps taken, and with the cooperation from village heads, we were able to execute integrated actions and remain vigilant from time to time to ensure the safety and welfare of the residents.”
Several trucks from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) camp and around 80 army personnel have also been deployed round the clock to aid in the operations, especially in transporting the stranded residents at Jalan Kecil Layong.
The Community Development Department (JAPEM) has also distributed food rations to 47 affected families, while boats and life jackets have been stationed in some areas for any contingencies.
Meanwhile, temporary shelters have also been provisioned in five different areas that can accomodate up to 290 people.
One of the affected residents in Kampong Layong, Jini bin Sapih, said that although his house was spared from flooding, the surrounding area and access roads have been submerged in flood water for over a week.
“The access road to some 12 houses in this area was still flooded yesterday, and it’s difficult for us to use cars, although there is an alternative road,” he said.
However, Jini added that the flooding only covered a stretch of 1-2km along the access road, thanks to the ground works made a few years ago.
“In the past, this area was not accessible during flooding, but now the recurrence of flooding is very rare,” he said.
The coordinated operation that was activated since September this year involves multi-sectoral agencies and institutions, including mukim penghulus, village heads, Tutong District Office, NDMC, Emergency Medical Ambulance Services (EMAS), Ministry of Health (MoH), JAPEM, Department of Electrical Services (DES), Public Works Department (JKR), RBAF, Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) and Fire and Rescue Department (FRD).
Also taking part in the visit were Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit and Acting Director of NDMC Shahrin bin Haji Mohd Jawie.