Belait reactivates disaster centre

National 1 minute, 55 seconds

BELAIT

THE District Disaster Management Centre (DDMC) was reactivated yesterday in response to the ongoing forest and peat fire emergency in the district.

During a meeting at the Belait District Office, DDMC Chairperson cum Belait District Officer Hj Haris Othman stressed the need for “synchronised efforts”, asking all DDMC components to communicate often and effectively use the pool of resources available.

“From our experiences last year, we can learn… What we need is anticipation, to be always prepared. For now, (the major hotspot) is still focused on one area but in reality, this is likely to spread,” said Hj Haris.

The Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch 'B' said his immediate task is to identify a suitable location to set up an Incident Control Post (ICP) for almost 50 firefighters, warning that the current emergency was likely to take weeks to overcome.

“We are in a discussion with our superiors to identify a suitable spot for the ICP. Temporarily, we have a temporary command camp managed by the Seria Fire Station to channel and coordinate our firefighting actions,” said Commanding Officer Muhd Shahreeni Hj Mohd Yussof.

“Our priority now will be to reduce smoke emissions that are cutting visibility on the roads. Our strategy is to work on the smoke as well as reduce traffic congestion,” he added.

Belait residents spent an unusually long time on the alternative inter-town roads yesterday morning, due to the road closures along the Mumong-Seria bypass.

Traffic entering Seria stretched all the way to Anduki as early as 7am, while traffic leaving Kuala Belait was crawling from Panaga at the same time.

By noon, however, the highways were re-opened when conditions improved at 300m visibility, easing the traffic snarl.

Muhd Shahreeni was unable to say when the fires would be put out, but said experience puts the estimation at two to three weeks.

He added that Public Works Department assistance in creating “fire-breaks” (small strips of space in the forest to prevent spread of fire) has been valuable and the tactic will continue to be used at identified locations.

The DDMC chairperson has asked all agencies, particularly the Fire and Rescue Department and Royal Brunei Police Force to ensure updated information such as road closures and re-openings be disseminated to the public through the media.

The Brunei Times