By Zakaria Damit
SEMPORNA: Fire and rescue equipment facilities might be placed near rivers and seafronts to combat fire incident in squatter settlements in the state.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Afdal said he had discussed with the Local Government and Housing Ministry headed by Datuk Jaujan Sambakung to coordinate the proposal for immediate implementation, especially in several water villages with high risk of large-scale fire.
He said that initially the Fire Department would provide key equipment as among early prevention steps to stop fire from spreading to nearby residential areas.
“We are confident thais move could be an early step to prevent fire from spreading into riverside and seaside settlements.
“We find that there are no fire hydrants near these areas hampering firefighting works resulting in fire to spread easily to very close and densely populated houses,” he said when after handing over donations to the Kampung Air fire victims, at the Youth and Sports Hall here today.
A total of 1,086 residents were left homeless when fire razed houses in Kampung Air Hujung and Kampung Air Tengah here, recently.
Asked on steps to restructure squatter settlements in the state, Shafie, who is also Semporna Member of Parliament, said the state government would need some time and that these problems were also being faced in big cities especially Kuala Lumpur and several countries around the world.
“Perhaps we will overcome this in stages, for example, for some settlements that has almost 1,000 houses, we need to restructure it properly or else it might increase to 50 thousands in 10 years time.”
He said that also needed to be taken into account was the reason for squatter houses to increase.
“We need to manage this properly apart from avoiding other problems including safety and health factors that may arise in the area,” he said, adding that if nothing was done in the early stages it would likely cause a burden to the state and people in the future.
“We do not want people to live in squatter areas all the time because the State government has a lot of land for them to be relocated properly and gradually resolve (the squatters problem) them,” he said.-SabahNewsToday