KUCHING: A special task force will be set up to resolve issues pertaining to the squatter colony at Sungai Plan in Bintulu, said State Disaster Management Committee Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi.

Dr Stephen, who is also State Utilities Minister, said the members will comprise officers from various government departments and agencies.

“I have requested Bintulu District Office to head a group comprising representatives from Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Land and Survey Department, Public Works Department (JKR) and other relevant agencies to resolve the issues,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted on Sunday (Nov 29).

On the refusal of flood-hit squatters to be evacuated to temporary shelters at Muhibah Stadium, Dr Stephen clarified that the divisional disaster communication officer had tried to convince them to move to the relief centre.

“These people have to be relocated to give way to the Kidurong Central Project. Actually, they are now occupying state land. The Land and Survey Department and the BDA know this.

“The move is temporary while the authorities look for a permanent place for them. But no matter what, the settlement is an illegal one.

“Our divisional disaster communication team had tried to convince the squatters to move to the relief centre but they refused for fear that their belongings would be stolen or vandalised. They prefer to stay put and face whatever dangers come their way,” he said.

The Kemena assemblyman also said that he had directed the JKR to implement immediate short-term and long-term measures to assist the victims.

“I’ve directed JKR to provide immediate short-term and long-term measures including the provision of canvass and shelter,” he added.

On Saturday, hours-long heavy rain triggered a landslide which affected the foundation of Rumah Jarau, a longhouse in Kampung Dayak at Sungai Plan.

The landslide affected the rear area of the longhouse inhabited by 64 people in 12 families. Fortunately, none of them were injured.

Despite the scary situation, the survivors refused to be evacuated.