Royal check on Kg Ayer
By Azlan Othman, Azrol Azmi, James Kon, Aemy Azlena & Kartika Rahman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday made a surprise visit to villages in Kampong Ayer that were affected by last week's (July 23) gale storm.

The monarch, clad in army attire, visited Kg Pekilong Muara followed by Kg Saba, Kg Peramu, Kg Bendahara Lama, Kg Pg Kerma Indera Lama, Kg Pg Tajuddin Hitam, Kg Tamoi and finally to Kg Pudak, where the roof of a mosque was damaged in the storm. Most of the houses in Kg Ayer bore the brunt of the storm.

During the visit, the benevolent ruler, who travelled on a government boat from one village to another, asked the affected village residents whether the renovation works have been completed.

Present throughout the visit were Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan; Minister of Energy, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya; Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Dewa Pahlawan Dato Paduka Awg Hj Dani; and other senior government officials.

Over 220 houses hit by the gale storm were fully restored within five days.

Two days ago, Pehin Dato Awg Hj Adanan said combined efforts, strong commitment and close cooperation among relevant agencies have brought normalcy to the lives of the storm victims in less than six days.

He said the operation through the National Disaster Management Centre only lasted less than a week, but it showed how critical every single element of the community contributed for its success. The disaster management preparedness plays an important role in bringing daily life back to normal in the shortest time possible.

Besides Mukim Saba, Mukim Peramu, other Mukims affected were Mukim Burong Pinggai, Mukim Sg Kedayan, Mukim Sungai Kebun, Mukim Kota Batu and Mukim Berakas.

More than $445,800 in donations poured in for the victims affected by the storm. In the aftermath of the storm, canvases were provided to cover missing roofs while timber as far as from Limbang and Sabah were brought in due to the shortage of local timber. As a result of the storm, power supply was also cut off in many of the affected areas as many electrical posts had collapsed.

Besides Kg Ayer, the storm with wind gusts reaching 76 km/hr also hit decorative lights, arches, electrical cables, bridges, blew off roofs at schools, uprooted trees and caused landslides.

Hundreds of personnel from various agencies, including the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Fire and Rescue Department were involved in restoring the damaged houses. The operation centre is stationed at Kg Sungai Lampai fire station overseeing Kg Ayer.

Sutinah from 128G in Kg Peramu said, the rebuilding project has been completed with some minor renovations to be made later. However, Marjanah bte Tali, who lives next to Satinah, expressed her grievance to His Majesty over the inadequate roofing material to repair her house. "Holes can still be seen," she said.

Hj Randah B Dullah, head of a family of six who sells Nasi Katok and ice blocks in Kg Peramu, said his house was badly affected by the storm but expressed his gratitude that the renovation work has been completed.

A single mother of 10 children, Dk Sabariah from Kg Pg Siraja Muda whose house roof has been repaired, called for additional assistance to repair the wooden walkway and the foundation of her house. - Borneo Bulletin (1st August 2007)