Malaysia floods: Damage to property and infrastructure close to $377 million

Malaysia floods: Damage to property and infrastructure close to $377 million

PETALING JAYA - Realisation is starting to sink in on just how devastating the floods have been on the country, infrastructure and people.

At the forefront are the thousands of villagers who lost their homes and those who lost their lives in the disaster.

But as the nation moves to recover, it is finding that there are more who have also lost.

Among them are some 69,000 rubber smallholders and up to 50,000 oil palm planters whose plantations are submerged.

They are suffering a loss in income while a lengthy submersion in water can damage the oil palm trees, adding to the cost.

In the worst-hit east coast state of Kelantan alone, there are about 150,000 farmers and livestock breeders with destroyed padi fields and vegetable plots, drowned livestock and swamped fish ponds.

The total damage to property and infrastructure in all the affected states is still being tallied but already the cost is close to RM1bil.

Some officials announced estimates yesterday totalling RM878mil (S$331mil).

This comprises RM350mil to repair damaged schools in five states, RM200mil in property damage, RM100mil to repair roads in Kelantan, RM132mil to repair roads in Terengganu and RM96mil to repair 93 collapsed hillslopes along the damaged roads in four states.

The tally does not include the losses incurred by the rubber, oil palm and agriculture sectors, which are among the main economic activities for residents of the east coast states.

The National Association of Small Holders (Nash) said that about 119,000 smallholders were affected and that a survey to determine the losses they suffered were ongoing.

"This has been a terrible flood and worst hit are oil palm smallholders in Pahang and Terengganu as well as rubber smallholders in Kelantan," said Datuk Aliasak Ambia, president of Nash.

He said the rubber smallholders needed help in the form of equipment, such as cups and tapping knives, while the oil palm smallholders were hoping for fertiliser aid.

Nash has about 375,000 members who each plant rubber, oil palm and cocoa on plots of land less than 40ha.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad said the land development authority was conducting a survey to determine the extent of damage and losses.

"So far, what I can say is that most of the damage has been to our plantations in Gua Musang, Kelantan, and in parts of Pahang," he said.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said a more accurate estimate of damage was not yet possible because most of the farmers were still in relief centres.

Also, with the farmers affected, the prices of vegetables are rising nationwide because the commodity has become scarce and inaccessible roads make it difficult to get the produce to market.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd's Kelantan office general-manager Md Yuslan Md Yusof also could not put a figure to the damage but added that the flood damaged equipment such as switchgear, transformers, cables, conductors and electricity poles, mostly in Tanah Merah, Gua Musang and Kuala Krai.

Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said he could only give an accurate estimate on damage once the water subsided.

The Defence Ministry has pledged to help the Works Ministry with manpower to repair damaged public infrastructure, especially roads.

Unless roads are made accessible quickly and the weather improves, the supply of foodstuff in the badly affected states would only be fully restored within two weeks, said Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek.

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