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    Issues of housing, land use, flashfloods, traffic jams raised

    |     Azlan Othman     |

    ISSUES of concern to the Ministry of Development (MoD) such as the establishment of communal housing projects, land use, recurrence of flashfloods and traffic jams were raised by several Legislative Council (LegCo) members during yesterday’s LegCo meeting.

    Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Development Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar pointed out that a plan to introduce and build communal housing systems in the rest of the country like those found in Temburong is under consideration.

    The minister was responding to member of the LegCo and Mukim Liang Penghulu Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin’s suggestion to introduce housing schemes at villages in the country.

    The LegCo member cited the example of Kampong Bukit Sawat in the Belait District, where the population has been reduced to 400 people – mostly elderly citizens – following the migration of the younger generation to housing scheme areas.

    Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid also called for the country’s national housing schemes to be reopened after being frozen several years ago.

    Member of the LegCo and Mukim Liang Penghulu Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin. – BAHYIAH BAKIR

    In response, the Minister of Development said that the land lot scheme will continue, noting that “the ministry needs the infrastructure first”.

    Member of the LegCo and Kampong Limau Manis Village Head Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari, meanwhile, called for access to private land located at prime locations which are yet to be developed to be granted.

    In his reply, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi said that the Land Department “is always assisting on this matter”.

    “There are issues like landlocked areas, lands in hilly areas, smaller land that could not be developed,” he said. “Applicants can get approval with the neighbouring landowner for roads to be built (to such private land). The applicant can also apply to the Land Department to exchange such land in other areas, subject to terms and conditions.”

    Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin also proposed for a flyover to be built at the accident-prone Telanai traffic junction. To this, the development minister replied, “The proposal is under review under the National Development Plan (RKN).”

    Member of the LegCo Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pendikar Alam Dato Paduka Seri Haji Hasrin bin Dato Paduka Haji Sabtu meanwhile suggested for the need to build facilities at public areas catering to people with disabilities and seniors, such as at playgrounds.

    “For persons with different abilities, we have under a review a guideline to incorporate senior citizens, to ensure we promote an inclusive culture for all in the country,” Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Suhaimi said in his response.

    On member of the LegCo and Mukim Bokok Penghulu Yang Berhormat Haji Emran bin Haji Sabtu’s suggestion for alternative roads to be improved, such as Jalan Belais connecting to the Rataie housing area, and Jalan Kampong Lepong Lama to Sibut, which can be used as an alternative route in the event of flashfloods, the minister said the matter has been looked into, with works currently being planned and budget being allocated.

    He added, “We are also looking into increasing the car park space in Bangar town, in view of the impending completion of the Temburong Bridge.”

    Member of the LegCo and Mukim Tanjong Maya Penghulu Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong called for a review or exemption on the requirement that a residential area must have over 30 houses before the ministry will carry out asphalt surfacing on the roads in the location.

    He also suggested for a similar exemption to be applied for the requirement that specific areas in the Brunei-Muara District must have more than five houses before road assistance will be provided.

    Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Wahab highlighted that there are instances of roads in the Tutong District that have not been surfaced with asphalt for over 30 years.

    The minister said in his reply that the ministry “will look into the matter and do a review of the requirements if there is a need to do so”.

    On the issue of the closure of part of the Telisai-Lumut Highway raised by Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid, the minister noted that there are damages at certain locations along the road and the ministry is now inviting tenders for repair works on the road.

    With regard to efforts made to reduce traffic jams at the Mentiri roundabout, an issue raised by the member of the LegCo and Village Head of Kampong Masjid Lama, Pekan Muara, Sabun and Pelumpong Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman, the minister said the MoD “is analysing the possibility of installing traffic lights at the roundabout”.

    On the suggestion for foreign consultants to be used for town and country planning, the minister replied, “These consultants are engaged by the (respective planning companies) themselves. Locals are prioritised as there are prioritised for jobs. However there are specialised jobs where foreign expertise is needed.”

    On the issue of land tax, the minister noted, “Those with owed dues to land tax are given warnings to settle them. Brunei has the lowest land tax compared to other nations.”

    Commenting on the damage caused to roads in Serasa by heavy trucks, the minister said, “Maintenance on these roads are being carried out, while another project is still under process at the State Tendering Board.”

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