Ensure No Fire, Health Risks When Approving Commercial Projects Near Residential Areas

Terrence taking a closer look at the burnt out furniture Mart in penanampang. The massive fire caused damage to some of the nearby houses.

PENAMPANG: Nominated State Assemblyman, Terrence Siambun today called for the inspection of commercial properties being erected on pockets of land in Penampang and other towns in Sabah to ensure that there is no potential fire or health risk to nearby residential houses.

“The local authorities must ensure that any development taking place in pockets of land will not jeopardize the health or safety of residents in the surrounding areas,” he said.

“Unlike businesses taking place within a commercial or industrial shoplots, those on pockets of land may pose fire, pollution or contamination to its surrounding residential buildings and its occupants.

When a business owner applies for the license to operate on a pocket of land, the development plan submitted to the local authority will be of ‘a small scale’ and in compliance with all the regulations – hence, the application will be approved with the license.

However, as time goes by, the business will grow and the owner will have to expand their business premises to maximize profit by supplying/storing more products or by increasing production and this is how the hazards can begin.

This is what I want the local authorities to check – businesses or manufacturing activities taking place on pockets of land that may cause safety and health risks to the surrounding residents,” he said.

Please inspect business premises located near residential areas that are selling flammable items such as paints, gas or even doing food manufacturing and processing that may cause pollution or contamination, he added.

Siambun said this during his inspection of the remains of a furniture showroom located near Taman Dabak, Penampang that had been razed in a huge fire.

“I can see that several houses were damaged because of the huge fire and I am sure the house owners were traumatized because of the incident while at the same time, having to fork out their own money to repair the damage on their houses.

Fortunately, during the fire, it was drizzling and there was no strong wind; if not, the fire would have spread quickly to the nearby houses.

And if the local authority also decides to allow the owner to operate on the same land again, then there should be a special permit for the premise with clear guidelines on fire safety such as the distance between the building and the nearest house as well as the installation of water sprinklers and smoke alarms.

These guidelines should be made mandatory in all factories erected near residential buildings to ensure that this incident will not repeat,” he concluded.