Kg Rimba village heads warn against open burning

National 2 minutes, 54 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

VILLAGE heads of Kampung Rimba have urged residents to be more responsible following several bush and forest fires that have occurred within the vicinity of the village recently.

Earlier this month, a number of bush and forest fires broke out in Kg Rimba area, at the housing area of Kg Rimba Landless Indigenous Citizens Housing Scheme (STKRJ) as well as forest areas near to DST Headquarters and Jerudong International School.

Among the causes of the fire were “unattended irresponsible open burning”.

In a phone interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, Abdul Wahab Timbang, one of the village heads of STKRJ Rimba, reminded residents to be more careful in their activities.

“For those who wish to carry out open burning for farming or gardening purposes, I advise them to inform authorities (Fire and Rescue Department) beforehand as well as their village heads as precautionary measures if anything goes wrong,” he said.

He also reminded smokers to be more vigilant and responsible with the disposal of their cigarette stubs.

“In this kind of weather (dry season), anything can trigger bush or forest fires. So smokers need to be careful in ensuring they put their cigarettes out in safe areas, and not carelessly throwing them out in the open space (where dry grass and foliages may catch fire) leading to bushfires,” he said.

Hj Adanan @ Hj Mohamed Taha, village head of Zone 1 of Rimba National Housing Scheme said that he usually advises residents not to conduct any open burning activities. “Every time I see people doing open burning, I would approach them and ask them to put it out and advise them against doing it any more due to the weather conditions we are experiencing nowadays,” he said.

Puspa Wira Hj Mohd Noor, another village head of STKRJ Rimba, echoed similar sentiments, urging residents to refrain from conducting any open burning unless absolutely necessary.

“In such cases if they need to resort to open burning, they must keep a watch on fire and ensure that it does not spread to other areas due to strong wind,” said the village head.

Meanwhile, the acting director of the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) told _The Brunei Times _that open burning activities are still ‘rampant’ in the Sultanate.

“Our department is still doing advisory roles in this matter by continuously reminding the public on the negative impacts of open burning as well as conducting patrols to monitor these activities and ensuring they are under control,” said Hj Shaharuddin Khairul Hj Anuar.

He also corrected the misconception that open burning offenders are liable up to $100,000 fine under the Penal Code Amendment Order 1998 as he said the law is only applicable to a ‘prescribed period of time’.

“The law is only put into practice whenever Brunei is faced with worsening weather conditions or in a state of emergency, like during a bad drought season in which any open burning activities will be punishable by the said law,” he clarified.

However, it is still vital to promote for the members of the public to refrain from carrying out any open burning due to its hazardous impacts, he added.

When asked about the current weather conditions of the Sultanate, Hj Shaharuddin said that the pollutant standards index (PSI) readings have remained moderate across the country.

On the department’s website, as of yesterday the PSI readings showed 35 for Brunei-Muara, while Tutong, Belait and Temburong accounted to 30, 32 and 25 respectively which indicated ‘good’ air quality.

The Brunei Times