Smoke Endangers Malacca Straits

Smoke Endangers Malacca Straits

10 August 2005


Pekanbaru, Riau — Increased burning of peat soil on the east coast, particularly in Dumai, Rokan Hilir, Bengkalis and Pelalawan regencies within the last four days is threatening the security of traffic in the waters of the Malacca Straits.

The source of the smoke is fire spots that have reached 1,500 during three months.

The size of the peat soil burning areas has increased the smoke debit in the areas that directly border on the Malacca Straits.

“The wind flow and the position of the burning peat soil areas, which borders on the Malacca Straits, are the serious problems here,” said Khairul Zainal, Head of the Riau Environment Impact Control Board in Pekanbaru on Tuesday (08/08).

The fires, which are taking place on hundreds of hectares of wet peat soil in the forests that used to be forest management land in Senepis Dumai and Rokan Hilir and many fire spots in Pelalawan, Siak, and Bengkali regencies, are difficult to extinguish.

“Teams have difficulties in reaching locations due to limited road facilities,” said Khairul.

The condition will be made worsen with the dry season usually lasting until September.

Jafrul Eliyas, Head of the Forestry Office in Dumai, said that the fires on the peat lands have already reached coastal area between Sungai Sembilan and Rokan Hilir.

There are at least five fire spots between Sungai Sembilan and Rokan Hilir, and so far almost 15,000 hectares of peat land has been destroyed.

“In fact the east wind has moved towards the Malacca Straits,” said Eliyas by phone.

The Malaysian government has issued warnings to small ships in international waters.

“Visibility on the water has reached about one kilometer,” said Malaysian Environmental Office chairman Datuk Rosnani Ibrahim.

This condition is really dangerous for ships that have incomplete navigation tools.

The smoke does not always come from Riau.

On Monday (01/08), the Malaysian satellite located 17 fire spots in Sarawak, East Malaysia, and 16 fire spots in Kalimantan.


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