Surbana touts smart plans for preventing floods

Severe flooding across Myanmar over the past few weeks has been deemed by many to be the worst natural disaster to hit the country in a decade.

In response, the Ministry of Construction has asked for advice on how to prevent such a tragedy happening again in the future, according to Wong Heang, Group CEO of Singaporean consultant Surbana Jurong – a joint venture private company that was formerly under the Singaporean government.

“When I met with the minister of construction, he asked if I had any advice on how to prevent natural disasters happening in the country. I told him that we have experience in this, and that if the ministry needs to solve the problem, we have ways to do it,” he said during a press conference in Yangon on August 3.

Fifty years ago, Singapore faced similar problems to Myanmar in terms of natural disasters and flooding, he said, adding that it is possible to limit the damage caused by heavy rainfall using engineering technology, such as geo-technology.

“We know how to solve this and we can help advise on construction using high-technology engineering for the prevention of disasters such as flooding. If the government offers, we are ready to help,” said Mr Wong.

Several things can be done to prevent flooding, including digging deeper and wider rivers and expanding riverfronts, or removing rubbish from waterways, he said. Another possible solution would be to build an underground cave beneath a city to store water during heavy rains, which can later be pumped out of the cave once the rain has stopped.

“Engineering can solve everything if you use technology in a useful way. Disasters have been prevented by engineering before,” he said. “When Singapore was built, for example, the developers designed it so that water would flow underground through tunnels.”

Mr Wong added that the likelihood of flooding can increase as a city develops. “Under normal circumstances, the likelihood of floods increases when an area develops, as the amount of forestation in the area decreases,” he said in a media statement.

“Forestation could help absorb excess water and reduce water run-off. However, Surbana’s designs and solutions include flood elevation schemes which could help reduce urban flooding.”

He added that Yangon would benefit from tunnels beneath the city to store excess water.

Surbana Jurong entered the Myanmar market over two years ago, and the company now has 39 projects across the country, including low-cost housing development, industrial parks and private sector developments.

Source: Myanmar Times

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