New city hall strikes hopeful tone for Mirians as 2021 draws to a close
Posted on : 30 Dec 2021  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Mayor Yii (left) and his deputy, Julaihi Mohamad, stand in front of the barrel-shaped Miri City Hall.

THE highly-awaited opening of the new city hall signified a hopeful tone for Mirians as the year draws to a close.

Thus, it is only fitting for it to lead the Top 5 list of incidents in this ‘Resort City of Northern Sarawak’ that have made the headlines throughout the year.

The following details each event, beginning with the latest.

Nov 15 — The new Miri City Hall was finally unveiled after having undergone delays due to restrictions under various phases of Movement Control Order (MCO), meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Despite having been in the planning for 10 years, the project only kicked off fully in 2018.

Located at Miri Marina Bay and overlooking the South China Sea, the RM92-million new headquarters for Miri City Council (MCC) was modelled after an ‘oil barrel’, as homage to the city’s petroleum and gas exploration history.

Moreover, the design also incorporated Green Building Index (GBI) elements such as efficient energy and water consumption, environmental quality assurance, sustainable site planning and management, as well as smart usage of materials and resources.

The next phase of development for the city hall was also proposed, in the form of another structure to be built at sea and connected to the main building at Miri Marina via a bridge.

The design, according to the suggestion put forth by Miri Mayor Adam Yii, would be based on a typical offshore production platform.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who officiated at the opening ceremony, described the new Miri City Hall as ‘symbolising progress, the solidarity among Mirians in a diverse society, and its prosperity – an epitome of a stable government that’s able to deliver progress’.

(From left) Fadillah and Abang Johari perform the gimmick launch of the earth-breaking ceremony for Phase 1 of the SSLR development in Lawas, witnessed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Limbang MP Datuk Hasbi Habibollah.

Sept 22 — Federal Minister of Works Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof announced that works on Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) would kick off this month and set towards completion in 2026. The 425km land route is meant to connect Sarawak and Sabah, from Miri, bypassing Brunei – all without the hassle of immigration and customs checks at the Sarawak-Brunei border. It is also meant to connect 14 major towns across Sarawak and Sabah.

The first phase of the RM1.1-billion project is a 77km stretch connecting Lawas and Long Lopeng Junction, aimed at providing smoother and safer travels into and across Sarawak’s interiors. The earth-breaking ceremony for this 77km road was held in Lawas in end-October.

Additionally, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who officiated at the earth-breaking ceremony, said a road network integrating the proposed northern coastal highway and linking Marudi-Mulu to Medamit in Limbang, and later to the SSLR, had been planned.

“We target this integrated road connectivity (to also finish) by 2026, coinciding with the target completion schedule for the water supply and electricity grids for Limbang and Lawas,” he was quoted as having said.

Pusat Falak Miri at Luak Esplanade would enable Sarawak to intensify studies and research into the field of astronomy.

Sept 24 — The ‘falak’ (astronomy) centre at Luak Esplanade, Miri opened its doors to visitors. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who officiated at the event, said Pusat Falak Miri would function as a research hub for those learning about and conducting works related to astronomy.

“The field of knowledge is important as it is closely related to information technology and communications.

“In this respect, this centre is open to university students to do research related to astronomy. We encourage our students, Muslims and non-Muslims, to study astronomy,” said Abang Johari in his speech.
Costing RM4.5 million, construction works kicked off on Sept 5, 2019 and reached completion on July 13, 2021. The falak centre houses many facilities such as an observation room, dressing rooms, meeting rooms, pantry, a surau and also praying rooms.

The centre would enable Sarawak to intensify studies and research into the field of astronomy, and also to serve as a place to observe the emergence of ‘anak bulan’ (initial lunar crescent stage) – a method to determine the start of many occasions observed by Muslims such as Ramadan (fasting month), Syawal (Hari Raya Aidilfitri) and Awal Muharam (Muslim New Year).

Photo shows the extended molecular laboratory at Miri Hospital.

May-June — A non-governmental organisation (NGO) had set out to raise funds towards improving the existing molecular lab at Miri Hospital.

Kita Jaga Miri kicked off the programme with the objective of mitigating the worsening Covid-10 situation in Miri where daily positive cases had been on the rise since January, and the public had been complaining about the slow processing of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test samples.

Kita Jaga Miri volunteers with the food items meant for distribution to the longhouse folk.

The NGO was jointly set up in 2020 by the Rotary Club of Miri Oil Town (RCMOT), Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) Miri, Federation of Miri Division Chinese Associations Youth, and the Miri branch of Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers (Sheda) – with the intention of providing sustainable assistance to the frontliners and those affected by Covid-19.

The molecular-lab extension project soon received attention from various agencies from both the public and private sectors. The works officially reached completion on June 11, about a month after the extension works commenced. This, coupled with additional machines, had helped the RT-PCR swab-testing capacity in Miri to increase from 800 to 1,400 tests a day, expediting the delivery of results of the person-under-investigation (PUI) and person-under-surveillance (PUS) cases.

Photo shows floodwater covering the whole compounds of houses in a village in Lutong.

January — The northern part of Miri Division was hit by flash floods in early 2021, described as ‘the worst that had ever struck in decades’. Continuous downpours combined with the ‘King’s Tide’ (extraordinary high tide) had triggered flash floods in many low-lying areas such as Senadin, Lutong, Permyjaya, Tudan, and Kuala Batu Satu in Kuala Baram. They forced many roads such as Jalan Lama Kuala Baram (towards Kuala Baram) and Jalan Pulau Melayu (towards Lutong) to be closed, in that the floodwater also brought in debris such as logs and mud, rendering these stretches impassable for vehicles.

Reaching up to waist’s level in some places, the floods also forced families in Kampung Batu Satu to be evacuated and placed at the temporary shelter set up at the village’s multipurpose hall after floodwater reached over three feet high.

The flooding came at a time when the victims were still coping with the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.