Residents face a month of floods

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds


THE few remaining residents of Kg Bukit Sawat in the interior areas of Belait District have had to navigate the small village’s main gravel road by boat since their village was flooded for about a month.

Incessant monsoon rain had caused the nearby Sungai Mau to overflow its banks and inundate the road by as deep as two metres, making it inaccessible to even four-wheel-drive vehicles.

“The floods are deep enough that we can use our boats to reach the steps of our house,” said army retiree Mohd Sufian Abdullah.

When The Brunei Times visited the village yesterday morning, the road known to residents as Jalan Kandol was still inundated but the water was believed to be receding.

However, as more rain and thunderstorms were forecasted for Brunei, the Kg Bukit Sawat residents anticipated the flooding would continue.

He also shared that there were a couple of houses in the village that were devoid of electricity for the past four to five days.

“We have reported it (to authorities) many times, but nobody came. It’s sad because mostly elderly people live here,” Mohd Sufian said.

The flooding of the road and surrounding areas was a yearly occurrence, with the worst incident taking place in 2009, said Mohd Sufian’s 26-year-old son, Mohd Sufhidin.

The floods lasted for three months and were even deeper, with the residents then told to move to Kg Sg Mau, but Mohd Sufhidin said they rejected the proposal because that village was too far away.

The following year, the floods struck again on the first day of Hari Raya, allowing only the family’s closest relatives to visit them by boat during the festivities.

Mohd Sufian shared that his family was the largest in the village, as many others have moved elsewhere, particularly to more urban areas, due to the floods and the remoteness of Kg Bukit Sawat.

The village, like Kg Sukang and Kg Melilas, does not receive any mobile coverage. Villagers have to make their way back up Jalan Labi, which connects to Kg Sg Liang, to make calls.

“There are only about perbelasan (less than 20) people left living here (in Kg Bukit Sawat) but I chose to stay because I like this original village life,” said the retiree, who hailed from Lumut.

His son said he has had to use a boat daily to get to his car parked at the Bukit Sawat jetty, located less than a few kilometers away from the family’s house on stilts. Mohd Sufhidin went in the mornings to go to his workplace at the Liang Lumut Recreational Club and returned home at night.

“It can be quite a nuisance and quite scary because I’m afraid of hitting some (submerged) driftwood on my way home (by boat),” he said. The street lighting appeared to be functioning yesterday and the family’s house still had electricity.

In terms of assistance, Mohd Sufhidin added, “we are not hoping for food or anything like that, but we hope the road can be raised by two metres to make it easier for us”.

In 2011, some 180.55mm of rainfall was recorded in Bukit Sawat, the highest the village has seen in five years, up until that year.

The Brunei Times