(People, events, activities and programmes which make for a total quality-managed Sarawak Civil Service)

ISSN 1394-5726

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Our Rivers As An Alternative To Road Transport

10 - 15 years down the road, traffic congestion on our roads will be far worse than it is today if no alternative ways of travel are found. What would be the alternative source of transport for us? The next best alternative that we can think of is our rivers - 55 of them in Sarawak and 32 of these are the main navigable ones with a total length of 3,500 km!

It is a fact that river transportation has always played a leading role in Sarawak as much as it has been in all parts of the world. Beside acting as a channel of communication since olden days between urban and rural communities, rivers is seen as an economical conveyor of cargoes and passengers alike.

The rapid socio-economic development in Sarawak demands the shift of focus from domestic to one of regional and global outlook. This in turn will generate a higher demand for roads as well as rivers for the transport of goods within the country.

At a recent seminar on 'Inland Water Transport' in Kuching, distinguished speakers presented working papers on ways and means to make greater use of our rivers for the future integrated plan of transportation in Sarawak. The following are abstracts from some of the papers presented at the seminar.

YAB Chief Minister With A Set Of The Seminar's 
Working Papers
YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah seems captivated 
by a model of The Kuala Rajang Port Terminal Building 
Rivers in Sarawak have been traditionally
used as sports and recreational activities
Participants and officials of the seminar 
enjoying the Sarawak river cruise
Inland waterways have been the backbone of transportation in Sarawak providing essential services to the hinterlands and to ports and towns. In recent years, this role has declined owing to policies to invest in other forms of transport. But with the increase in economic activities involving large volumes of cargo from plantations and agriculture estates, there is now a growing realisation that Inland Water Transport (IWT) has the potential to act as a vital interface with other modes.

Public Expenditures in IWT has also increased considerably. Despite the development of coastal roads in Sarawak that will be able to connect most of the coastal settlements with one another in speed and volume that was not imaginable ten years ago, such roads would not be capable of providing for the large industrial and agricultural products that would require larger volumes and heavier vehicles to bring them to the nearest ports.

With the development of the riverine ports and settlements into tourist spots as well as the continuous effort for rehabilitation and improvements of inland waterways as safe and clean routes, the future of IWT as an alternative but integrated part of communications within the state is bright.

Inland Water Transport: Prospects & Challenges for the 21st Century (A Conceptual Framework) By Tuan Haji Salleh bin Haji Sulaiman, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure Development & Communications

Tuan Haji Salleh 
bin Haji Sulaiman
Rivers can easily transport large volume of logs
between ports 

The presenter, Prof. Dr. Lau Seng addresses some of the environmental issues arising from the development of modern inland transport system. These issues are water and air pollutions, biodiversity conservation, heritage and cultural preservation, socio-economic implications and riverbanks erosion. The environmental impacts of IWT can be looked at through three major phases of development - the construction and installation of facilities; the operational phase and the restoration and maintenance phases.

Environmental Consideration in Inland Water Transport. By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lau Seng, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

The natural environment along the rivers are to be preserved when planning for inland water transportation

Rivers are used for various purposes. The most common one would be in the form of water supply for irrigation purposes but more often as a drainage system. Rivers exist in the form of natural waterways as a result of geographical terrain. They are there to provide numerous benefits for the well being of a local community. Since the emergence of road networks, rivers have been discriminately neglected and used only for limited functions.

One of the most highly recommended solution is to upgrade or improve these river system into a transportation system to co-exist with other modes of transport in an intermodalism concept. Through these systems, IWT can be fully utilised for optimum economic advantage while contributing to a wider benefit in terms of social and environmental.

This study identifies the requirement, demands and level of the proposed development of Sarawak River in relation to the suggested measures for consideration in achieving the anticipated benefits from development.

Intermodal Transport System For Kuching City - A Case Study of Sarawak River. By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ab Saman Bin Kader, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Mr William Jinep, Sarawak Rivers Board

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ab Saman bin Abd Kader

Well planned transportation infrastructure is of prime importance in enabling nations to achieve integrated socio-economic development. Such infrastructure requires continuous maintenance and upgrading to meet changes in cargo flows and to keep pace with technological developments in transport and cargo handling systems.

In many countries, the focus for expenditure on major investments has moved from capital works to improvements in more effective management, operations, maintenance and rehabilitation of transport networks. As far as river improvement for IWT is concerned, the development of a waterway aims at minimising natural and physical constraints. Usually, the most important of these are: inadequate channel depth and width, sharp river bends, unacceptable flow velocities, unstable channels, the presence of banks, crossings or rocky sections, seasonal variability, etc.

A standardised classification of vessels and waterways effectively quantifies the navigation capacity of a country's waterway network, thus providing a clear insight into where and when the safe passage of certain vessel types is guaranteed in order that cargo shipping can be adequately planned.

Inland Waterways Network, Classification and Channel Improvement. By Donald Macleod, Director, Pos Ford (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd.

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