Sat, 15 Jun 2024



Penampang floods worse after Pan Borneo
Published on: Sunday, December 04, 2022
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Photo 1: Monsopiad bridge, arrow shows narrowing of river.
AS a retired public servant with engineering background I am disappointed with all candidates for MP here recently who seem scared to give more details of flood problems which is considered the top issue in Penampang.

All they did in their campaign is blame one another for not doing anything about the flood, in particularwithout any solid plans to investigate the cause of worsening floods and providing permanent solutions apart from blaming nature”,.

There is now a permanent contributer to higher flood levels, namely the Pan Borneo project going through the district, and maybe causing the same elsewhere.

The way the project is making floods worse are as follows:

Photo 1: The first Moyog river bridge crossing at Monsopiad is nearly completed but below the bridge the river width is constricted by at least 10%. Compare the design of the bridge by JKR at Dambai Penampang with a longer middle span with a larger pre-stressed concrete beam to straddle the width of the river.

In contrast, the contractor designed bridge at Monsopiad with a wider river, has shorter and smaller beams obviously to reduce cost. The round columns supporting these beams which were drilled in the river bed now looks like they are at the edge of the river. The bridge abutment are protected with rock filling which effectively narrowed the river below the bridge and thus is a permanent bottleneck.

It is very obvious that the Pan Borneo contractor adjusted the river to suit their bridge instead of building a bridge to suit the river.

Back in October 2021, a dialogue was held at a councillors house in Kolopis where the Project deputy director said they did not narrow the river with the famous phrase “Kami tiada buat kesempitan sungai”, all for nothing. A videographer even challenged all present to come to site and conduct measurement all without any response, hence he is now proven correct.

Four years ago when the bridge construction first started, a group of community leaders met the Pan Borneo engineers on site who were told this river is the only one draining both Moyog and Sugud catchment, in fact the only one in Penampang and should not be blocked in any way. 

Instead a coffer dam was built reducing the river’s width by half and even though temporary caused the largest flood in Penampang. But everyone pretended it did not happen. 

Even the promised financial assistance of a mere RM1,000 per family was given by the present government to supporters only, resulting in some folks in Sugud putting up a protest signboard (Photo 2).

Photo 2: Protest banner at Sugud.

The chairman of PDP in charge of implementing the project when it first started assured the Kolopis residents that the road embankment through the flood retention basin will not make the flood worse. (published in DE). That promise has no proven worthless, but the same chairman became a candidate MP for Putatan, recently and won.

Not only the road embankment is preventing flood water from flowing back to the Moyog river, but the contractors have scrimped on cost of culverts by installing as small as possible. Pix 3.

Photo 3: typical culvert of Pan Borneo at Kolopis.

In fact the villagers even caught in photos how only the exit culvert was a larger size while the buried part smaller. And when the smaller culvert pipe was inserted in the larger as a simple joint, it really looked like the pipes having sex.

I have been trying in vain to talk to engineers at local Drainage and Irrigation office, but seems like they have been bullied to silence. I wanted to find out if all the designs of culverts and bridges complied to the guidelines set by the department.

Donggongon town was hardly flooded 5 years ago, but haphazard development, trees and hill cuttings both in the Sugud and Moyog catchment areas have been left uncontrolled by the government forcing some resident to initiate the famous Quackman lawsuit case against both hill cutter and the government yet nothing has changed, he said.

Now Penampang experinces an average of 10 floods every year and sadly its only going to get worse while the politicians keep pointing fingers. I hope I have educated the voters with the facts through your respected Forum page.

Retired engineer

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]


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