|Sibu exploring possible projects on peat soil|
Its chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said the problem of sinking for infrastructure built on peat soil in Sibu had made the cost of development and maintenance here much higher than in other parts of the state.
"As such, if anyone can come up with innovative ideas, we will make efforts to implement these ideas," he said at the opening of a national engineering seminar here yesterday.
The two-day seminar was jointly organised by SMC, Public Works Department (JKR), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, RECESS Malaysia, Institution of Engineers Malaysia Sarawak branch (Sibu Region) and United College Sarawak.
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin and Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering dean Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Datuk Abdul Samad were among those present.
Tiong described the seminar as timely as it will serve as a platform for researchers, professionals, developers and the authorities to share, discuss and exchange views with the aim of having greater understanding of peat soil's characteristics.
"Hopefully, the participants will come up with practical solutions to the issues and challenges posed by the peat soil conditions in the state in general and Sibu in particular," he said.
Tiong said research showed that about 13 per cent of the total land area or 1.7 million ha of Sarawak is sited on peat soil of varying depths.
Sibu Division has the widest area, whereby nearly 70 per cent of its land is peat in nature, he said, adding that Sibu town, being located on deep peat soil, experiences a lot of development constraints.
Tiong said a substantial part of the town centre, in particular the old residential clusters bound by Kampung Nyabor, Brooke Drive and Oya Road, is currently in a state of disrepair with rows of residential houses being abandoned altogether, due to excessive ground subsidence.
"Ground subsidence has also resulted in negative gradients to drainage, resulting in unhealthy water stagnation in many parts of the town. Due to the sinking roads and drains, much of the town is also prone to flooding, both locally as well as regionally," he said.
Tiong said the sinking problem had cost SMC large sums as each year, they had to allocate a lot of provisions for upgrading and maintenance of roads and drains every three to five years.
"In view of this situation, developers and engineers in Sibu seek to avoid building on this problematic ground. However, in cases where there is nowhere else to avoid such as those that often occurs in the urban area due to high pressure for land for development, even these less desirable land had to be developed," he said.
However with valuable experience and research, he said, there was now a better understanding of peat soil and hence engineering design and construction techniques are safer, cheaper and more practical for these peat predominant areas.
"There are methods such as excavation and replacement method, surface reinforcement and preloading, vertical drains, piled supports and geo materials of lightweight fill.
"The preference of construction method is however a matter of working out the best solutions that would consider economic and technical factors, available construction time and the target performance standards," he added.