BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The minister of home affairs has warned disaster management authorities to prepare for the strong possibility of flash floods and landslides as Brunei enters the monsoon season in November.

YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong said areas at risk of floods and flash floods should be prioritised with structural and non-structural preparations.

“Structural preparations such as drainage work should be undertaken immediately. From a non-structural point of view, weather information and early warning should be actively monitored throughout the season by any means available,” he said.

The minister was speaking during a National Disaster Council meeting at the Brunei-Muara District Office on Monday.

He said information on weather conditions and disaster management procedures should be disseminated to all levels of society, especially at the grassroots level and communities at risk of disasters.

“The dissemination of this information will support the community with a culture of preparedness, which is the most effective component of disaster management,” he added.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar said the private sector, non-governmental organizations and grassroots leaders need to be involved in preparing for the monsoon season.

The minister said the flash floods in June and October this year that affected several villages and communities could have been prevented if there was a more proactive approach from all parties.

The Ministry of Development’s Public Works Department had said the flash floods in October was due to continuous heavy rain that coincided with high water tide levels in the Brunei River. On its Instagram account, the department attributed the flooding to clogged culverts, which led to the lower capacity of the drainage and the pump system in receiving power supply.

He urged the National Disaster Council to also pay attention to new challenges brought about by the country’s industrial development.

“The likelihood of man-made disasters such as chemical spills, gas leaks, explosions and so on is a serious risk to the safety and well-being of our society and cannot be overlooked,” YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar said.

Challenges brought about by climate change were also raised at the meeting.

“This issue needs attention and action to reduce its impact, prevent it, improve its readiness and adapt, it needs to be planned with the cooperation and involvement of various sectors.

“Various best practices can be learned and modeled to ensure our national disaster management policies and plans are in line with regional and international standards,” he added.

The minister said any policies and best practices for extending humanitarian assistance and compensation from neighboring countries should be studied.

“Providing insurance coverage may help the government reduce the burden of expenses for rehabilitation and humanitarian work,” he said.