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Kapit - A state-wide river safety campaign, jointly organized by the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) and UNDP, has teamed up with the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) and the Health Department, Kapit to reach out to communities living by the rivers of Sarawak. This is the first time that the private sector has been involved in the campaign, which was launched in July last year as part of the on-going education and awareness component of the Sarawak Inland Waterway Transport (SIWT) System Study.

FPMPAM, represented by its President, Dr. Steven Chow, performed free medical screenings and donated over RM3,000 worth of medications for the students and residents from the community.

The latest phase of the campaign, which involved SK Lubok Bedil, SMK Katibas, SK Ng Kain and Rumah Gare comes ahead of the Gawai Festival next month, when riverine passenger traffic via hubs such as Sibu and Kapit peaks.

During this period, over 38,000 individuals ply the waterways in the area, bound for Song, Kanowit, Kapit, Baleh and Belaga, where they transfer to community boats to reach their longhouses.

The SRB-UNDP campaign, titled, "Community Water Transport - Navigation and Safety Operations" seeks to raise awareness among local communities, who rely on the rivers for transport and other daily activities, on safety as well as to promote preventative and proactive action in the event of emergencies, while waiting for professional help to arrive.

Certified training teams have gone out to local communities in various locations across Sarawak to train more than 1,000 people in river safety and rescue techniques, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid.

To improve navigational safety ahead of the festive period, the training teams focused on educating children and community leaders in Kapit and Song on safety guidelines for small boats and passengers, equipment preparedness as well as enhancing the capacity of SRB enforcement teams.
In addition, SRB also organized gotong-royongs with four longhouse communities to clear the river channels along Sungai Kain and remove dangerous debris that may hamper navigation.

To lend his support to the campaign YB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, visited the event at Rumah Gare, where he took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and "smart" partnerships with the private sector and government agencies.

In exploring private-public partnerships, the SRB-UNDP training teams were also joined by Ms Quek Sue Yian, Director of Hong Leong Foundation, and Head of Social Affairs of Hong Leong Group, as well as Ms Elaine Chin, Manager of Group Corporate Communications at CIMB Foundation and Mr David Ling, Branch Manager of CIMB Bank Berhad during the training in Katibas, Song.

Also present were YB Dato Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, Minister of Land Development, YB Dr. Stephen Rundi, Chairman of SRB, En. Hang Tuah Merawin, Resident Kapit, and En. Muhamad Yakup bin Kari, Controller of SRB.

Source: United Nations Development Programme - Malaysia

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